What is the best way to sell an idea to a manufacturer? 8 Answers as of June 25, 2013

I modified a product for a friend who needed the product for a specific application. The manufacturer makes a great and very reputable product, but not specifically for this application, however other companies do. I would like to show them my idea while protecting it. There are many other companies who already make a similar product, so I don't see any reason that they couldn't just start making it. I would also like to see a portion of the profits go to a specific charity that would be related to the users of this product. I do not want to start a manufacturing business, and I wouldn't want to compete with this company anyway, because I like their products.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Gerald Walsh | Gerald Walsh
The best way to sell an idea to a manufacturer is to patent an invention that incorporates the idea.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/25/2013
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
Check the manufacturer's website to see if they accept outside submissions most companies do not. If they do accept "concepts" from outsiders, they are typically interested only in ideas that have been patented. That way, what you claim is yours is well defined and they cannot be accused of taking your idea from you. Thus, your best option is to file a provisional application in the US Patent Office (www.uspto.gov) disclosing your idea how to make and how to use it. Then you will at least be "patent pending" for the one-year lifetime of the provisional application and a company might be willing to review your idea as disclosed in that application.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 6/25/2013
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
Before you show a product to a manufacturer you should have a patent pending with the patent office. The patent office currently operates on a "First to File" basis. If you show your product to a company and they file for a patent before you, it will prevent you from getting a patent. In general most companies will not enter into an agreement with someone without a patent pending. Because, why should they pay money for an inventions when other manufacturers do not.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/24/2013
Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
You will have to use a non disclosure or confidentiality agreement or file a patent. Other than threat there is not much else i can offer in the way of protection.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 6/24/2013
Gerald R. Black, Esq.
Gerald R. Black, Esq. | Gerald R. Black
This is a tough question and many people are grappling with trying to figure it out. The answer may depend upon the particular technology involved but this is a general answer. I have worked in the corporate Patent Departments of several large companies. It is common for them to receive inquiries from outsiders on a regular basis. From their perspective they are doing you a favor by reviewing your technology. Let me explain. These large companies have what they consider to be top level technical staffs continually trying to develop new products for them. It would be a disaster for them to be about to launch a major new product that they developed, and then they receive an unsolicited disclosure for the same technology from an outsider. They will find themselves in major litigation for stealing technology that they developed. Accordingly, many companies are not eager to review technology from outsiders. Of course, from your perspective, you are doing them a favor by offering your technology to them. What you will need to do is contact competent legal counsel and search to see if anyone else has filed any Patent Application on your improved technology. If not, you should file a Provisional Application. This process should not cost you more than $2500. Then you should contact the companies that are already in the market. You will need to sign an agreement that you will be relying on your Patent Rights if any controversy arises.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/24/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    Patent your idea, if possible, and then approach the other manufacturer with your product. If you can't or don't want to patent the idea, you can still show it to others as long as they sign a nondisclosure agreement first. Should anyone choose to license your idea, they will sign a contract with you and pay royalties or possibly one lump sum. You can choose to donate some or all of that money to the charity of your choice
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/24/2013
    Barton Barton & Plotkin
    Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
    You need to develop a business plan for the product that demonstrated its commercial viability. Then you need to develop a form of non disclosure agreement which you should insist that third parties sign before you show them you idea. Your business plan should disclose the results your your clearance opinion. It is critical for you to obtain an opinion of counsel based on a detailed analysis of patents and prior art showing that you can make your product without violating patents and other IP rights of third parties. All of this requires that you retain experienced IP counsel to guide you. There are no shortcuts here and retaining counsel is the critical first step
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/24/2013
    Tran & Associates | Bao Tran
    You should get patent application as soon as you can to prevent others from copying you. This is important as we move into the First to File era. I would recommend the use of software from PowerPatent.com called ProvisionalBuilder. Software costs $99 so it i very inexpensive yet guides you to prepare a high quality patent application that one year later you can turn to a lawyer to convert into a utility application for you. A feature summary is at http://www.powerpatent.com/prwelcome. The software helps you organize information, and through your summary description, brings back sample patents in the same field for you to use as examples.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/24/2013
Click to View More Answers: