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How to Sell Invention Ideas

written by: theMallorys•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 9/11/2010

Selling invention ideas is the next best thing to actually creating the invention yourself. You can turn your ideas into a profitable business if you know where to sell them. Here are three methods to get you started.

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    Selling invention ideas is a viable way to make a living as an entrepreneur. Many inventors have had successful businesses dreaming up processes, programming code, products and improvements to existing inventions and turning those over to companies with the resources to turn their dreams into realities. After you protect your intellectual property rights, here’s how to go about selling your ideas:

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    Do-it-Yourself Approach

    Perhaps you invented an idea with one company in mind. You may have become frustrated using a product that was inadequate for your needs and decided that you could improve it or come up with a better alternative. Why not go back to the company with your patented idea and pitch it directly to them? It’s an entrepreneurial approach to selling invention ideas, and it’s one that takes time and patience to get your foot in the door. Once you’re there, you don’t have to worry about paying a middleman for the doing the work that you did on your own. Make a list of the companies you want to pitch your ideas to, in case the first company you have in mind is not interested. Contact the research and development department, or if you have other contacts in management, get in touch with them. Set up an appointment and be prepared with a professional presentation about your ideas. Before you arrive, you’ll want them to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that they don’t disclose your invention to the public. Your job is to get them excited about the idea, and then your attorney and theirs can hash out the legalese if you sell them on it.

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    Invention Networks

    If you don’t have the time, will or know-how to approach companies directly, then consider joining a network. The job is of inventor networks is to match inventors and companies, or to provide a forum where meeting one another is easier. Some networks allow companies and investors to post ads. For example, you can post a brief ad about your idea, and interested companies can contact you to learn more. You can also view ads by companies looking for ideas and contact them if your idea matches what they’re looking for. Each network charges differently for their service. Some charge a commission for selling invention ideas, especially if they are directly involved with pitching your ideas to a company. Other networks charge monthly or yearly membership fees, or even lifetime membership fees.

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    Intermediary Firms

    Major corporations like to do business with firms sometimes that are tasked with licensing ideas for them. You can pitch your services to these intermediary firms which would then license your ideas for the corporation. It’s back to the do-it-yourself approach with this method of selling invention ideas, but the firms are smaller and it’s easier to make a contact in these, instead of a large corporation. You can find a list of these firms in major directories for inventors, and trade associations often list these companies, or a corporation may refer you to a specific firm that handles their licenses.

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    You have to protect your ideas with patents, and selling your invention ideas can cost you a lot of money. For example, you have to pay for the patent application and fees for a patent attorney or patent consultant. It’s worth the investment, if you feel that your invention can reap major profits for you and the companies or individuals you sell your ideas to.

    Image Credit: Matthew Bowden / stock.xchng