Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Should You PATENT Your Invention?

You can get a Patent on anything, such as my famous BEERBRELLA Patent.  But whether or not this makes financial sense is another matter.

In this blog, I talk a lot about how people think emotionally and not logically.  And nowhere is this more true that with Inventions.

Everyone, it seems, at one time in their life, comes up with what they think is a "great invention" and then they fantasize about Patenting it and making a billion dollars from it.

And yes, I get a lot of phone calls from people wanting to know how to get a Patent.  And yes, there are con artists out there known as "invention brokers" who cater to people who have these ideas, and take them for $5,000 to $10,000 or more.  And usually people are too embarrassed to say anything when it all goes South, as they don't want to be perceived as foolish.

Should you get a Patent?  Probably not.  But if you are bound and determined to do so, nothing I can say will stop you - like people who say they want to lease a car.

Oftentimes, however, the urge to become the next Edison wears off, after a few days, weeks, or months.  Usually it quickly wears off when I tell a client that it may cost $5,000 to $10,000 to get a Patent.

I've tried to be "helpful" sometimes and offer to help an inventor get a Patent "on the cheap" - but again, altruism is always suspect - and problematic.  If I can't get the person a Patent - or a broad Patent, they end up getting upset - even if I charged them a pittance of my normal fees.

And I've tried to steer inventors away from the Invention Brokers - with near-comical results.  One fellow approached me after seeing a "20/20" expose on TeeVee about the invention brokers.  While he was on the phone, I searched his invention online and found three "dead on" references, which I sent to him, free of charge.  I gave him the usual warnings about invention brokers and told him to walk away from them.

P.T. Barnum had it right - the suckers never value that which they don't pay for.

Anyway, he calls me back a week later, telling me I am full of hot air and that the Invention Broker told him that his invention was a "sure thing" and he would make millions.  I told him to be careful and wished him luck.

Two years later, he calls back, whining about how the Invention Broker "ripped him off" and why didn't I warn him about the invention brokers?

So you see, you simply can't help people - most people.  Most people think emotionally, not logically, and are willing to believe in all sorts of ridiculous nonsense.  And chances are, you'll believe it, too.

Perhaps we all do.  But the secret to getting ahead in the world is to stop looking for easy answers and something-for-nothing solutions - to stop scapegoating and externalizing our own problems and obsessing about politics.  If you can do that, chances are you will do well.