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When an Inventor Calls

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Whether you’re working directly for a brand’s licensing operation or for an agency, you may receive a call or email from time to time from an inventor. You might immediately dismiss the outreach, but that could be a mistake. You may be passing up an opportunity to strengthen the brand by working with this independent developer to enhance a licensee’s product line and create new revenue streams.

How can inventors help you help your licensees? Imagine you had an open door for new product ideas to present to your licensees and they added them to their product lines.

  • It’s a win for your licensor, they now added a new product to their product line with your brand property.
  • It’s a win for you, you made the match.
  • It’s a win for the inventor/product developer, who earns a royalty-based licensing deal or perhaps sells outright the patent and/or trademark.

How can you set yourself up to take advantage of these potential opportunities?

Have a submission process in place where you can receive an intake form or email. Some form of a disclaimer should be visible or acknowledged. Before deciding to offer to review products, please keep in mind that you’ll need to be sensitive of the inventor’s intellectual property; in most cases, some form of non-disclosure agreement will be signed by everyone involved. You may require that what they are submitting have at least a provisional patent application filed or patent issued. You can also set some guidelines of what needs to be included – i.e. a link to a video of no more than 2 minutes from YouTube or Vimeo, up to 4 pictures and a brief benefit description.

Think about the brand’s and licensee’s buyers and distribution channels. What’s going to make them different from their competitors and provide a competitive edge? Yes, they may have a product or design team, however sometimes a new perspective from outside submissions may be beneficial.

Connect with your licensees and discuss whether they are open to reviewing new products. Some may have their own internal product development teams and a full pipeline; others may welcome new idea submissions.

Are they looking for a specific product, or open to any submissions? If there is a product that fits their category, who should you communicate with to review these products?

What are their criteria? An issued patent? Patent pending? Prototype? CAD files needed What will the agreement and term sheet look like for you to discuss with the inventor? Do you have the time to vet these products and discuss them with inventors pre- and post-submission?

These are just some of the factors you need to consider as you interact with inventors and product developers in the ongoing quest to expand your business and enhance the brand.

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