Posted on Feb 17, 2021

Law Office of Gerald R. Prettyman

Got A Bright Idea? Want to protect and develop the idea? Here is some preliminary information.
Part I. Cautionary Statements
1. Ideas are not protectable. You may be able to protect the registered use of a tangible idea, but not ideas. Never send an unsolicited idea to a company. Patents protect eligible patented (registered) inventions. Trademarks protect registered brands. Copyright protects a select set of creative registered ideas. Companies tend to return letters of unsolicited information, but that is only to avoid the hassle of lawsuits. Many companies have successfully used unsolicited information and even changed ideas from other people. SpongeBob Squarepants started from an idea of a Sponge named Bob.
2. Selling ideas is rarely profitable. Avoid these mistakes.
A. Invention promoters: Less than 1% of people earn back the money they spent. Glossy brochures look good, but the promoters do little more than send letters to companies.
B. Licensing deals: The accounting of "costs and fees" almost always "exceeds" revenue.
C. Corporate Partnerships: The process tends to work like: A. Desired partner uses due diligence to learn protectability, marketability, and profitability. B. Desired partner cancels the contract. C. Desired partner builds its own version. D. Ousted partner fights in court and has to settle for a cheap deal. The lousy thing is how often this occurs. I've seen it in the auto industry, Home Depot, and WalMart even used it on Nike.
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