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THE ONLINE INVENTOR -- October 1999

(c) 1999 Market Launchers, Inc.

http://www.marketlaunchers.com

Publisher: Paul Niemann

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In this issue:

Article # 1:    "Four Ways You Can Save Hundreds (or even thousands) of Dollars when Patenting your Invention," by Jack Lander

Article #2:    "Three Direct Response TV Companies Looking for New Products for Independent Inventors," by Paul Niemann

Article #3:    "Marketing Reference Tools," by Jeff Dobkin

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Article #1:    "Four Ways You Can Save Hundreds (or even thousands) of Dollars when Patenting Your Invention," by Jack Lander

    Here are four simple ways to save a lot of money in obtaining a patent:

            1. Use a patent agent rather than patent attorney;
            2. Write part of your application yourself;
            3. File a Provisional Patent Application; and
            4. Strategically abandon your invention when indicated.

1.    Use a patent agent to write your application. Patent agents have to pass the patent bar examination in order to be licensed to practice before the United States Patent & Trademark Office, but their practice of law is limited to patent applications; they cannot represent you in litigation. They are not lawyers in the usual sense.

    Both patent agents and patent attorneys must have a degree in a technical discipline such as mechanical engineering, chemistry, etc., as well as competence in patent law. But patent agents need not graduate (or even attend) law school in order to pass the examination, which concerns understandable rules and regulations. And because they are not lawyers, they charge much less.

    Patent agents are sometimes better patent writers than attorneys because they may have had several years of hands-on engineering experience before deciding to become patent agents.  Find patent agents in your state on the Internet at www.uspto.gov (the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office site), then go to "Data Bases" in which you will find Patent Attorneys and Patent Agents by state.

2.    Write part of your patent application yourself. If you are a reasonable writer, and patient enough to do a bit of reading, you can write all of your application except for the claims. (Whatever you or your agent writes becomes the issued patent. The patent examiner does not write any part of a patent; he or she simply rejects or approves what is written.)

    Claims writing is difficult. Anyone can write a narrow claim -- one that doesn't provide much protection. But writing an acceptable broad claim is a real art. You might try it, but this task is best left to your agent or attorney. Claims are not boasts of the merits of your invention, but are legal statements that define the abstract limits of your "intellectual property," much as a surveyor's document would define the physical limits of your real property. Claims are always the last part of your patent.

    To write the "front end" matter, mainly the "specification," you will need to do two things: First, obtain a copy of Attorney David Pressman's classic work, Patent It Yourself. Your library probably has it. If you are serious about doing it yourself, you will probably want to own a copy. It isn't cheap; but it will save you at least ten times its cost in time spent interfacing with your agent or attorney even if he or she writes your application. Second, have a patent search made, and use the several copies of patents that arrive with your search results as models for writing. Patent It Yourself will tell you all you need to know, and you will gain full confidence by reading several patents, and getting a feel for structure and wording.

3.    File a Provisional Patent Application. A PPA will generally cost you about half as much as an RPA (Regular Patent Application) -- much less if you write it yourself. A PPA is good for one year, and you can legally state "Patent Applied For" on your prototypes, photographs, and in your literature. A PPA does not get read by the Patent Office, nor does it result in the issuance of a patent. It is merely an instrument of early application that must be followed on by an RPA, or it dies without penalty.

    A PPA enables you to test the market for about ten months without committing to the expense of an RPA. Patent It Yourself covers how to write your PPA.

4.    Strategically abandon your patent. There are three key points at which you should consider abandoning a patent application, and perhaps going on to another invention that is patentable:

        1.    Your patent search reveals that your invention has already been done;
        2.    Your marketability evaluation from a university indicates that your
        invention probably won't succeed in the marketplace;
        3.    You have filed your PPA, and after diligently trying for ten months,
        you cannot interest any potential licensee in your invention.

    If you order your search through your patent agent or attorney, you should insist on a written patentability opinion. That opinion should indicate your approximate chances of getting a worthwhile patent. (Almost every patent can be circumvented by writing a new patent having trivial claims, and therefore a patent of doubtful value.)

    A confidential marketability evaluation should be done by a university, such as Southwest Missouri State University. Their price is $175, and may save you thousands of dollars in patenting costs if you decide to abandon patenting based on their evaluation. Contact SMSU at: www.innovation-institute.com or write to them at Innovation Institute, 852 Highway MM, Everton, MO 65646 for an application form.
   
If you have tried diligently for ten months to license or sell outright your invention without success, and you have covered all of the potential licensees, you may consider devoting your energies to a new invention. At some point you must recognize that further efforts will most likely be in vain. The odds of marketing an invention are not great, and to abandon an invention that no one seems to appreciate is not a disgrace.

    One last thought: In filing a PPA be sure to ask your agent or attorney to write the specification section in such a way that it can be "dropped in" to your eventual regular patent application without significant changes. In other words, except for the claims section, which is not required for your PPA, it should read almost exactly like your regular patent application.

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Copyright 1999 Jack R. Lander. Permission to copy granted, but may not be sold or included in or with items that are sold. Jack Lander is the proprietor of The Inventor's Bookstore: http://www.inventorhelp.com Be sure to visit his store for lots of good stuff on patenting, inventing, prototyping and marketing.

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Article #2:    "Three Direct Response TV Companies Looking for New Products for Independent Inventors," by Paul Niemann

In the August 1999 issue, in an article entitled, "Some Basic Facts about the Direct Response TV Industry," we talked about the Direct Response TV industry. That information came straight from Think Tek, who is sponsoring the New Product Search. Here we list a few more companies who are actively searching for products to put on TV. Most Direct Response TV companies are looking for products that make life easier for people, save time or solve problems. Also, products that make people look better (beauty and cosmetic products) or feel better (health and fitness products) tend to do well on TV, and these are the kinds of products that Direct Response TV companies look for.

Here are the names of 3 such companies who are actively looking for new products (and, as a result, are very open-minded to reviewing new inventions):

Mr. Jerry L. Grove
Grove Products, Inc.
11810 Glenfalls Ct.
Cincinnati, OH 45246
Web site: www.groveproducts.com
Jerry is looking for household products (food makers and processors, cleaning, repair, etc.), sports products (golf & fishing), exercise products, weight loss products, and beauty & cosmetics products.

Ms. Kim Banchs
c/o Transactional Marketing Consultants
3606 South Ocean Blvd. # 902
Highland Beach, FL 33487
E-mail: [email protected]
Kim's company is looking for consumer products for home shopping channels, infomercials and retail. She has extensive experience (and good contacts there as well) with the Home Shopping Network.

Mr. John Pinocci
c/o Television Shopping Resources
E-mail: [email protected]
John is looking for finished products only: Categories include apparel, beauty, cosmetics, jewelry, consumer electronics, home computer products.

These 3 companies are very approachable to inventors, and this is just a sample of the list of companies that I've compiled over the last 2 years that are either looking for new products or have licensed products from outside inventors in the past. This list is given FREE to each inventor who lists an invention on our web site.

By the way, if you do contact any of these people, feel free to use my name if you want.

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Paul Niemann

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Article #3:    "Marketing Reference Tools," by Jeff Dobkin

    Advertising is knowing what to say; marketing is knowing where to say it. Here's where to learn where to say it. A brief look at three directories -- and how to find and reach your markets in each:

BURRELLE'S MEDIA DIRECTORY / MAGAZINES AND NEWSLETTERS:

    Burrelle's Media Directory / Magazines and Newsletters is an      excellent reference tool for researching markets -- and figuring out     where to place your hard-earned advertising and PR dollars. It's designed to be an easy-to-use reference tool from the get-go, with information presented clearly, concisely, and in a logical format. It's in-depth coverage at its best.

    Even though the book is big, over 1,400 (8 " x 11") pages containing over 12,000 magazines and newsletters, you can find a particular market you are searching for in about a minute, faster if you have a little experience. Subjects or markets are arranged alphabetically. Looking for 'B'ankers? Well ... that was easy. All the magazines going to the banking industry are found in the market index under 'B.'

    The listing for each magazine contains the following data: publisher, address, phone, fax, e-mail, editors' names, circulation, cost of ads, frequency of publication, and my personal favorite -- whether or not they accept publicity material. Burrelle's also gives a short description of the market the magazine serves and its editorial slant. This tells you if you're barking up the right tree when searching through the ground pulpwood for the correct magazine.

    In addition to the subject index -- where markets appear alphabetically by market name -- there is an index of magazines listed alphabetically by magazine name. In this index, you would find a magazine under its proper name. American Banker -- check under A. Hey, that was easy, too. All in all, if you can remember the alphabet, you can find your markets pretty darn fast in Burrelle's Media Directory / Magazines and Newsletters.

    Burrelle's actually publishes a five-book set of in-depth media directories: Magazines and Newsletters, Newspapers and Related Media (2 volumes), and Broadcast and Related Media (2 volumes). Once you spend ten minutes or so figuring out how to use each, an incredible amount of information is at your fingertips and accessible in seconds.

    The staff at Burrelle's is approachable for questions (yes, even tough marketing questions) and is exceptionally friendly and helpful -- a big, big plus that sets the value of the product (and the firm) at the very peak of the information industry. Five stars for directories and customer service. Magazine and newsletter directory, $225 and worth it. Media Directory / Magazines and Newsletters telephone: (800) USMEDIA for a free descriptive brochure. We use this directory in our own office.

THE ALL-IN-ONE DIRECTORY:

    Gebbie Press publishes the All-In-One Directory, which includes sections on magazines, newspapers, and electronic media, all in one book.

    Magazines and journals are shown in a tight 25-to-a-page format. But the folks at Gebbie Press cram enough information into their list of 3,000 business, consumer, and farm publications for you to be able to send a press release campaign to the proper magazines.

    Each listing contains the publisher, the main editor, address, phone and fax numbers, circulation, and a short description of the magazine's audience. This is bare-bones information, but enough to find the correct market, locate the magazines that serve it, and it, and direct a press release to the editor by name. It is also enough information to call the editor and inquire if your product will fit well in their particular market.

    The newspaper section is contained in the center third of the 6" x 9" spiral-bound directory and includes over 7,500 entries of news syndicates and daily and weekly newspapers. Newspapers are arranged by state, and listings show name, address, and phone and fax numbers, along with circulation figures.

    The final third of the 500-page All-In-One Directory is all electronic media and includes listings of TV network headquarters, news services, and over 1,200 television stations. The bulk of this section follows with the data for over 7,000 radio stations. As you would suspect, all the necessary data is shown so you are able to find a station, then send them a press release or inquire about placing an ad. A good value at $85. Gebbie Press: (914) 255-7560.

BRADLEY'S GUIDE TO THE TOP NATIONAL TV TALK SHOWS:

    What if you're not looking for depth, but just need the names of, say, the top 100 national TV news, talk, and magazine shows? Well, for $75 and a charge card you can get just that from Bradley Communications in Lansdowne, PA.

    No fancy anything -- just a spiral binding and a nicely laid-out book. If you are looking for just the top 100 shows, why buy anything else? The talk show market is hard to break into, but with enough phone calls, an incredible amount of persistence, and a good hook, perhaps someone, somewhere, will bite. You never know what's going to turn on a producer. Bradley's Guide to the Top National TV Talk Shows offers listings of show name, address, phone and fax, contact person for pitch, hosts, times the show runs, and subject interests. Also included: pitch angles that the shows' producers like. It shows some suggestions on how to get in, and where and how to send your story.

    While Bradley's Guide to the Top National TV Talk Shows does not contain the deepest of listings, and limits its listings to the top shows in the country, if you think you've got the right stuff, here's how to get to the country's hottest top show producers. For $75, can you afford not to try? Bradley Communications: (610) 259-1070, for orders call: (800) 989-1400. Bradley also publishes a wealth of reference publications on public relations, publishing, and selling books. Call for a free catalog.

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This tip provided by Jeff Dobkin. There are many more solid marketing tips in Dobkin's books, "How To Market a Product for Under $500" and "Uncommon Marketing Techniques." To purchase either book, go to www.dobkin.com or call (800) 234-4332. Both of these books are available in finer bookstores nationwide, or directly from the publisher by calling the above number.

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Feel free to forward "The Online Inventor" to your inventor friends and colleagues. If you change your e-mail address, please subscribe with the new address in order to continue receiving it each month. To view past issues of the "The Online Inventor," please go to www.marketlaunchers.com/archives.html.

Until next time, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann
"Humble Proprietor of Market Launchers, Inc. and sometimes inventor of successful new products, too."
(800) 337-5758
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 1999
All Rights Reserved

Click here to read the September 1999 issue.