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SpringHeeledJack
17th Feb 2013, 13:52
Trevor Baylis: I've wound up broke despite inventions - Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9875026/Trevor-Baylis-Ive-wound-up-broke-despite-inventions.html)

It would seem that Mr Baylis isn't as flush as he might have been had he been more worldly-wise and protected by law. As a commenter mused, the British are great at inventing, but useless at developing/supporting/marketing. It does seem to hold true that so many life-changing ideas have disappeared abroad to be brought to market with success. I realise that patenting an invention is a costly nightmare, as well as protecting that idea when it will be inevitably copied by our friends to the east, but if there were a more robust protection in the first instance things would be better all round for the creators, many of whom are maverick stand-alones.



SHJ

G-CPTN
17th Feb 2013, 14:04
Clive Sinclair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_Research).

Sinclair Research (http://www.sinclairzx.com/about-us.html)

radeng
17th Feb 2013, 14:17
I have come to the conclusion that for the individual, patents are things that look good on a resume, and aren't a lot of good otherwise. The hassle of getting the stuff written and correcting it after the patent agent has re-written it into rubbish (after a while, you pick up how to write it in 'patantese' and then they more or less leave it alone!) and writing the arguments to convince examiners who haven't a clue about the subject just isn't worth one's time in many companies. Although my last employer paid $5,000 for each published patent, and over 14 years, I made some $25,000 -less 40% tax. Plessey paid $1 a patent, but you got a tie after 5 and a different one after 10.

I've made 23 applications and had 17 granted in the last 39 years. 16 have run out, either because of years or because the business changed and it was no longer worthwhile paying the renewal fees.

It's far less trouble to write a magazine article and get paid for publishing it, and then (certainly in Europe), nobody else can patent it.

mike-wsm
17th Feb 2013, 14:29
The amateur inventor should never give up his day job. It's a hobby, pure and simple. Yes, be a nutty inventor, and who but Trevor Bayliss could epitomise that better, but don't try to make money from an invention, it's putting the cart before the horse.

As any professional inventor will tell you, real inventions aren't like that. A company is making a product which competes in a worldwide market, and one of the design engineers comes up with a nifty little dodge for making it better/cheaper/lighter/faster/whatever. This teeny detail gives the next generation product a sufficient advantage to be worth protecting, and, if challenged or infringed, to be worth fighting in court. Usually one fight causes other infringers to back down. Failing that an alliance with a very big company with very big teeth is useful. All well-known stuff.

But the private inventor, unless he can find an eager buyer in the first year, is on a hiding to nothing. And real inventions are not the clockwork radios or vortex vacuum cleaners so beloved by the redtop reading public, they are engineering subtleties buried deep within products.

Been there, dunnit. Both professionally and privately. Have even worked for one employer eager to get round a Patent I did for a previous employer...

Sprogget
17th Feb 2013, 14:52
I know someone who backed Baylis' wind up radio through thick & thin and has said a few times it was far more thin than thick. By all accounts, he is an extremely difficult man to deal with, to the point that most have walked away from him.

arcniz
17th Feb 2013, 14:55
What Radeng and mike-wsm said.


If one compares product development to raising a family, the inventing part is a variant on the entertainment of getting-laid, while the messy business of turning inventions into useful intellectual property, pulling together money and people for development, manufacturing, sales, and all the rest of the complex of components for doing business, and then making it all work profitably and durably, that's the diapers and strollers and schools and college and other product-life support items that takes the long view and lifetime of effort.

Been around those blocks. Not thinking to start any more families, but still inventing a bit, but with absolutely no expectation of other than very modest success, however.

The real money surrounding inventions is to be made helping companies fight their patent battles, and sometimes there's mild fun and maybe a few pennies return to be had for throwing a new&useful fish into the water for the sharks to fight over.

500N
17th Feb 2013, 14:55
I have always found that getting something to market quickly
is the key.

And then refine it from there.

stuckgear
17th Feb 2013, 15:00
unfortunately the UK mentality is not commensurate with commercialising innovation.

talking to investment/backers...


in the USA, presentation of new products receive 'that's great idea, lets do it'

in the far east, presentation of new products recieve 'thats a great idea, now how can we make it cheaper/better'.

in the UK, presentation of new products recieve 'that's a great a great idea, lets see if someone else does it first'.

arcniz
17th Feb 2013, 15:08
By all accounts, he is an extremely difficult man to deal with...
Fairly often goes with the territory.

Inventors are, by definition, iconoclasts, you know. Colouring outside the lines. Stubbornly persistent. Willful. Single-minded & often inclined to be solitary. Impatient but monomaniacally methodical. Iconoclastic. Penny-pinching & pound foolish in combination. Generally not simultaneously imbued with the personal habits and qualities that make for good businessmen -- tho it does happen.

500N
17th Feb 2013, 15:12
stuck

The problem is, it now takes about a week from receipt of
a product for the Chinese to have made an exact copy cheaper.

The Golf club makers despair over it as they release a new
driver and within a week the copy is back in the US.


Find product, make it, sell it, maybe have a 2nd bite at
the cherry, move on to the next product.

stuckgear
17th Feb 2013, 15:32
oh i agree 500N,

the problem is that getting funding for a new product remains highly difficult like my previous post, so while a new product or innovation remains exploitable in the market, the yanks run with it, the far east try to make it cheaper and better and the brits wait to see if someone else does it first.

then you have the costs of raising capital to actually start and invest in production, then the taxation levels imposed on profit after actually creating anything its easy to see why innovation pisses off overseas.

fitliker
17th Feb 2013, 16:40
Copyright law is easier and cheaper to enforce than Patent law.So make sure you copyright any good ideas as well as Patent them.

radeng
17th Feb 2013, 18:49
Where I feel the US business model is poor (and the UK is going the same way) is the degree of 'fast return-ism' and 'what are the results for the last three months'.

It is very true that nobody goes bankrupt in the long term, but too much emphasis on rapid return on investment and the quarterly figures doesn't always work for the best overall result.

500N
17th Feb 2013, 19:25
radeng

That has been going on for a long time. In every sales position I have held,
mnthly sales figures was the chant. When I became a Sales Manager,
I persuaded the MD to look at things on a quarterly, 6 monthly and yearly basis
instead of monthly. It meant sales people didn't sand bag a month and if they were going to miss a months sales figures, they could make it up in the next two months.

It worked and sales became more even and sales people didn't get
into a panic each month.

radeng
18th Feb 2013, 08:55
When I joined the company (32 years and several takeovers ago) there was an interesting sales bonus. If you achieved 120 % of target, the bonus was so much: as your achievement increased, the resulting increments in bonus went down, so going from 130% to 150% gave you less increment in bonus than from 100% to 120%.

So canny salesmen, having achieved about 125% by January, carefully managed to take no more orders until the new financial year started in April..

I don't think management ever caught on to why there was paucity of orders at the beginning of the year and big jump at the beginning of the financial year.

I did ask a product group manager why his forecasts to senior management were pie in the sky and the development of both equipment and market take at least twice as long as his predictions. His reply was that he was well aware of that, but if he told the truth to senior management, he would never be allowed to start anything.

He was honest to say that in the case of people in the position of US Sales VP, the VP mostly stood for 'Visible Prick'.

Alloa Akbar
18th Feb 2013, 09:57
In the UK we are risk averse by nature. I currently deal with one particular well known British brand, who's attempts to launch quick to market, innovative products have ended in spectacular failure, despite them being one of Britain's leading engineering lights. For my own part, I won't invest a penny in "quick buck" stuff, everything we do here is underpinned by a robust, well researched and planned business model.. Thats the way I am staying. Sure, we will never be another Apple, but in our niche, and within the expectations of our owners, then we do just fine ta.

No point in being a busy fool, or a famous bankrupt inventor.

HuntandFish
18th Feb 2013, 11:01
An interesting thread
I am working with a friend on an invention . We have been testing prototypes .
All searches I have made show it to be new and novel but it is easy to copy . So I am planning to patent it possibly doing it myself .
Any advice welcome .

yotty
18th Feb 2013, 11:13
Baylis can't be that bad, he dd [email protected] a lot of attractive wimmen! :cool:

B Fraser
18th Feb 2013, 11:32
I understand that companies who file patents become elligible for some very advantageous tax breaks.


....just saying :rolleyes:

B Fraser
18th Feb 2013, 11:35
Yotty,

I wonder what first attracted them to the potentially multi-millionaire eccentric inventor ??????

arcniz
18th Feb 2013, 11:57
I currently deal with one particular well known British brand, who's attempts to launch quick to market, innovative products have ended in spectacular failure, despite them being one of Britain's leading engineering lights. For my own part, I won't invest a penny in "quick buck" stuff, everything we do here is underpinned by a robust, well researched and planned business model.

As stated, your model sounds like the strategy folks here call "Go Out of Business". Certainly there are cases where it fits reality to simply extract maximum value from existing operations and assets while suspending forward investment in expense accounts such as marketing, R&D, facilities maintenance, training, etc.

The method makes earnings look great, there's a lot less useless activity to manage, and everyone can be happy for a while.

With luck and skill when using the GOoB method, everything will commence to fall apart at about the same time, giving the clear signal to close doors and go fishing, with only some clerks and minders to finish the proceedings.

Barring the foregoing, however, it is difficult to manage a business without ongoing forward investment. Technology business is the worst, of course, because technology products tend to be like fish - great when fresh but not agreeable as time and competition with nature and the marketplace begin to make one's product line seem ever more fishy to both new and established customers.

The minimum standard to survive in a market where advancing technology is a pacing factor is to spend on R&D (or acquisitions) sufficient amounts to assure that an ever-replenishing pipeline of future products stands ready to buttress or replace ones that are going fishy in competition for new (or continuing) sales. Correctly estimating the exact amount to spend on R&D to assure consistent success is a great challenge, and surprises do happen, so the conservative approach (in business affected by technology change) is to OVERinvest in product enhancements and new lines of product or business, thereby making some cautionary allowance for errors in judgement and twists of fate. For this type of business environment, waiting to see what might happen in the market before beginning provisions for change might be a strategy for the beginning of the end -- given the substantial lead times required to catch up with leap-ahead competitors through crash-development programs or hasty acquisitions.

Sometimes companies going through this catch-up process do make excellent and highly motivated clients for independent inventors, however.

Alloa Akbar
18th Feb 2013, 12:15
As stated, your model sounds like the strategy folks here call "Go Out of Business"

25% + CAGR through 4 years of recession.. we seem to be doing ok on my "GOoB" strategy.. :ok:

So I am planning to patent it possibly doing it myself Yep.. get yourself a damn good Patents expert first and foremost.

The problem with new and novel technologies is some people get caught in no mans land.. If you have an idea for a wiz-bang new widget, then either a) Patent the design and sell the design / idea to a larger manufacturer, or b) Keep it, do all the R&D yourself, and sell the product when it is fully proven and tested.. Anywhere in between will surely result in empty pockets.

arcniz
18th Feb 2013, 12:36
I am working with a friend on an invention . We have been testing prototypes .

All searches I have made show it to be new and novel but it is easy to copy . So I am planning to patent it possibly doing it myself .
Any advice welcome .

Cannot help you with the UK per se, but you might find interesting a book published in the US for similar-minded folk -- with loads of general discussion and content about inventing and product development and patenting, as well as specifics tuned for the US patent system. Has been around for decades & is updated frequently, so an older copy might come very cheap from Azazon or similar.

Nolo Press -- Patent it Yourself



If a good strong patent is the end result you want from patenting, pay for experienced professional help and be thankful if it works out even slightly well. Should you not have the resources, put your effort into making the thing work very well, learn about drafting non-disclosure agreements, and then talk it around discretely with serious companies that could be partners, backers, or (most difficult) end users or resellers of your product.

Patents are incredibly arcane. Many of the persons in the patent-law business are so much smarter than me, that they can run me in circles on their home turf without half-trying. Nice, if they are on your side, otherwise not.

The history of patent law goes back some 600 years, evolving substantially different forms in different places, with new rules and laws etc added atop the old rules each month in the several dozen jurisdictions about the world where a patent for global effect might want to be filed. Minimum expense for that - done cheap but moderately well, might be $500K US, or maybe $200K for a few key markets. Each jurisdiction around the world has own patent and copyright rules, own fees, and usually has requirements that sometimes conflict with other jurisdictions or require dance-like precision to do right.

A fair part of a lifetime may be required to gain sufficient knowledge to write a moderately good patent -- and what you have in that, when all is said, done, and issued, is that is nothing more than a license to sue trespassers who copy your thing, so legalities and courts are likely your only regular friends in the long game to enforce your rights when (not if) the infringers infringe.

For some education, look for people you can meet with who have tried the process you are contemplating and have made it through one or more times from start to finish.


Final thought:

Figure out how to make some profit on your product first, then look to find someone already in business who can manufacture and benefit from it for their established line of business while also making it for you. Count your lucky stars if such a deal can be put together. If not, dream on, but hold on tight to your wallet.

Alloa Akbar
18th Feb 2013, 12:49
Figure out how to make some profit on your product first, then look to find someone already in business who can manufacture and benefit from it for their established line of business while also making it for you. Count your lucky stars if such a deal can be put together. If not, dream on, but hold on tight to your wallet.

Seconded :ok:

Sound advice.

500N
18th Feb 2013, 12:52
regarding patents which cost a lot of money to get,
someone else mentioned trademarks which I agree with.

I also recommend registering internet domain names.
Once you own them, you can control to an extent
where searches go.

Windy Militant
18th Feb 2013, 12:55
The Trouble with Patents started with the likes of Edison.

What usually happend was someone Like Edison would look at a Patent and then write a similar one which he claimed did not infringe the original, it usually did but by drawing out the legal challenges the original Patentee either went broke or sold up at a cut rate price to avoid being forced into bankrupcy by the process.
It's a well known American institution.
Remember
Edison V Westinghouse
If it hadn't have been for Tesla giving away his patents we'd have DC electrics and a Power station on every corner!
Philo Taylor Farnsworth V RCA
and so on. ;)

arcniz
18th Feb 2013, 13:10
25% + CAGR through 4 years of recession.. we seem to be doing ok on my "GOoB" strategy..

Good on ya for that!

One rather expected a robust rebuttal to the GOoB remark.

Worked some interesting years in R&D for a Fortune 100 company that had reached the transcendental level of Critical Mass (liquid assets) where no amount of stupidity seemed able to sink it. Company would acquire healthy rapid growth companies, run them around the markets for awhile, then somehow crash them and flog the pieces off for centimes on the Franc. Co did this for years, seeking to replace a proprietary franchise of its own that was life-limited by pending patent expiry. The Co still managed better than 20% ptROI for year after year, even as the rubble piled higher.

Invulnerability is a lovely thing, eh?

Alloa Akbar
18th Feb 2013, 13:13
One rather expected a robust rebuttal to the GOoB remark

Different strokes for different folks..

My post was made without any explanation of industry sector, products or company structure, so with such ambiguity, a robust rebuttal would have been harsh ;)

arcniz
18th Feb 2013, 13:44
Was counting the response you originally wrote as being in the Robust category, and not intending any further criticism. Your one well-aimed specific seemed quite sufficient to make your case, relative to the generality of my own comments.

Clear to me you know your stuff, Mr. Akbar. Glad it's working for you!

radeng
18th Feb 2013, 15:17
One VERY important point these days is ensure that you know what standards and/or regulations apply. In Europe, you can have quite a few standards applying to the same piece of equipment: you can self certify to some of them and not to others.

Standards and regulatory work is expensive. Not doing that work is frequently exceedingly bloody expensive!