Can You Earn Royalties On Your Invention?
Russell Williams is President and Co-founder of InventionHome and MatchProduct.com. Russell created InventionHome in 2002 as a credible and affordable platform for inventors to explore the invention and patent processes and has subsequently grown the company from a start-up enterprise into one of the industry’s leading organizations with a vast network of manufacturers, inventors and partners. He launched MatchProduct.com in 2008 as a free online marketplace for connecting buyers and sellers of finished “innovative” products.
Russell holds educational degrees from both Carnegie Mellon University (Masters/Management) and West Virginia University (Bachelors/Finance) and has accumulated over 20 years business and entrepreneurial experience.
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Believe it or not, it’s not as hard as you may think to land a royalty deal on a product invention…provided you have a truly “good” idea to start with, and you have some important steps completed before approaching companies.
To begin, let me step back and explain what I mean by “royalty deal”, which is more commonly referred to as a Licensing Agreement.
If you aspire to earn royalties from your invention, then the typical arrangement would be to secure a License Agreement with an interested company. A License Agreement is the legal document between an inventor [licensor] and a third party [licensee] which defines specific terms by which the licensee can commercially use the licensor’s invention. Among other things, the Agreement will define a time period, royalty rate, payment schedule, cash advance, minimum annual payments, etc. As a result of the Agreement, the inventor may receive an ongoing payment calculated as a percentage of sales (called a “royalty”), or a one-time lump-sum payment.
Another option would be for an inventor to assign his rights, which is essentially the process of transferring or selling ownership in the invention/patent. The inventor may receive a lump sum payment or a series of payments. The difference between a “license” and “assignment” is in the transfer of rights. With a license, the inventor retains rights, like “renting” the patent, and with an assignment they transfer their rights (i.e., sell it).
In addition to having a good idea there are other considerations when preparing your invention for license, such as intellectual property protection (i.e.: patent, trademark or copyright), development and presentation.
It is important to understand that manufacturing your idea is NOT a requirement to license your invention for royalties. Many inventors believe that they need to setup manufacturing to pursue their inventions, which is not true. If your goal is to license your invention for royalties, I would not advise going down the path of setting up manufacturing capabilities. Assuming you have a good invention to start, you can approach companies about licensing your invention with a patent application filed, a prototype or design in place and a reasonably good presentation on why they should license your invention.
In summary, it is very possible to license a good invention for royalties. My company, InventionHome has completed over 100 marketing/license agreements and we’re seeing tremendous interest in new and innovative products.
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