The Inventor Q&A – Edition 8

01 Jul 2010

Russell Williams

Russell Williams is President and Co-founder of Invention Home, a company creating the first nationally recognized marketplace for connecting inventors with companies looking for innovative, new inventions available for license (  Russell also runs, an online business-to-business marketplace enabling companies to sell new products or find product opportunities. See his profile at StartupNation.

Latest posts by Russell Williams (see all)

Russell Williams founded Invention
over 7 years ago to assist inventors with the marketing and
licensing of their ideas. He’s been asked nearly every
invention-related question in the book, and shares his wisdom with you
in this series, "The Inventor Q&A."


Can I really sell or license my invention/idea?


Yes, however, it is important to understand what you need to have in place to increase your odds of success. As you move your idea through the invention and patent process, your odds of success increase as your idea becomes more tangible and real.

The notion of selling or licensing an idea without any effort or development on behalf of the inventor is a misconception by many inventors. Although anything is possible, it is important to be realistic about your odds of success with an idea. Many inventors believe that a company will license or buy their idea and pay a royalty, even though they have not taken the time to move the idea forward with any research, patent work or any type of prototype, design, or development. This is unlikely. To increase your likelihood of success, you should be prepared to move your idea forward beyond just a concept or thought.

Next, when it comes to royalties or payment received for licensing your idea, it’s vital that you have realistic expectations. Don’t expect to receive a 50/50 split on the profits from a company for licensing your idea. A company may end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars developing, manufacturing and marketing your idea…so a 50/50 split would not be reasonable. Typically, an average royalty can range from 3-5% of net revenues received by the company for selling the product. The royalty rate is negotiable and may fluctuate based on the margin and/or sales volume of the product.

Overall, the key to selling or licensing your invention is having a good idea to start with, and then taking steps to protect and effectively present the idea to companies.


Before I spend the time and money to pursue my idea…can you tell me if it will succeed?


The reality is that there are no guarantees for success. Regardless of how great your idea is, there are absolutely no guarantees that your idea will ever make money. Great ideas can fail for many reasons, such as poor marketing, lack of market or scarce financial resources. Additionally, ideas that may seem less than stellar can often make millions. For example, the Pet Rock or Chia Pet.

The invention process can be exciting and rewarding. However, you’ll need to approach the process with realistic expectations and a willingness to do what it takes to succeed.

For help in licensing an invention, click here for a free information kit.

Read prior editions of
The Inventor Q&A: