I’m not a lawyer. If you believe someone has infringed on your patent you should use one.
When I said manufacturer I meant the company that made the decision to make the product. Manufacturer may have been a poor choice of words. Let’s use the word infringer.
The infringer may be willing to cut you a license deal rather than go to court. Definitely have your lawyer contact the infringer. It is unlikely the infringer would take your phone calls and letters seriously.
Your intention is to outsource production to China. Good. I believe when an inventors ideas are mass produced in China that is the ultimate form of success. If your idea is licensed you may not be in control of the manufacturing process. Hopefully your idea will be making you money when you sleep.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post and adding your input. I appreciate it. Also, thanks for pointing out some of the areas where I may have not been clear enough when presenting my argument. First, let me say that I plan on developing products for travelers -travel accesssories, etc. Second, I should clarify that I`m not expecting "free advice on a public forum" as a way to avoid going to a lawyer and paying a consulting fee. I am, however, presenting an argument against patents for someone at the small business level.
Why did I start this post? Maybe I haven`t gone back far enough on SuN`s archives, but I haven`t yet found a discussion on the forum that has covered this topic in detail from both sides. The consensus seems to be that when you have an idea then you patent it before bringing it to the market. If you don`t do that someone may steal your idea, resulting in your business failing. I argue this is false and steers the early entrepreneur in the wrong direction. In the real world, how many businesses are successful because they have patents? Can you look at these companies and argue that they would fail if they didn`t have patents? Wouldn`t it be more accurate to say that they are successful because they have good products?
Those who defend the aquisition of patents do not expound on the headaches of defending the patents themselves. James (P&T) said: "Patents provide a remedy mechanism when you find somebody copying your invention. Copying can be making the EXACT same thing or making something that is "CLOSE ENOUGH."
In the real world, how often does this happen? And when it has happened, did the business which owned the patent stay successful only because they were able to defend their patent? If indeed the business failed because they never got a patent and couldn`t take legal action(although I`m convinced this would not sink a business), then couldn`t you say they had a bad business plan to begin with? They depended solely on the success of one product? It would take atleast a few years before their idea was stolen. In those few years they haven`t aquired any feedback from customers on what to create next? Doesn`t that go against the spirit of innovation?
Innovater7 said: "A problem with small businesses is their owners think small, and probably know small."
>>Are you saying this is a bad thing? I do not see this as a `problem`. On the contrary, I would think it best for any entrepreneur to start small - grow your revenue on frequency of sales, not volume. This idea is especially important for people on this forum. Why promote the idea of "going big" to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs who are on SuN looking for tips? How can we go big when we haven`t even gone small? How can a violinist play "Flight of the Bumblebee" before learning to play "Three Blind Mice"? Furthermore, I think the idea of starting "big" ends mostly with either (1)the entrepreneur being dissuaded by such a daunting task or, (2)the start-up business failing because it has gone beyond its means and abilities, and incurred too much debt while doing so.
"If you`re only interested in making a few quick bucks on a particular design, fine, have it made and try to sell the goods".
>>That is exactly my interest. One shouldn`t expect to make a fortune off the first product. One should, however, expect the first product to allow one to get one`s foot in the door in their industry of choice. After that, the plan is to develop newer products based on customer feed back. This is a continued process and keeps the business going. Don`t you find it counter-productive to expect to make riches off the first version of your first product? How often does that happen? Another reason not to patent. Why patent something you most likely will change anyway?
"It`s not going to be easy, so be warned about outsourcing to China, which takes a lot of money, because they`d make goods by the container."
>>I`ve found that many suppliers in China have a minimum order that do not require an entire container. Besides the cost of a minimum order is relatively small. As far as it not being easy, creating a successfull business is always going to be hard work. You can`t get something for nothing...
"..if you think you can sell your goods by the container, it may be worth patenting."
>>For reasons mentioned above, the patent makes no difference just because I can sell a container`s worth of goods.
"Few entrepreneurs have deep pockets for ordering containers of goods and pay the tens of thousand dollars for patent pros."
>>My point exactly! Why divert resources to patents which are too costly to protect when it`s better spent elsewhere?
It is NOT with the manufacturer that all liabilities (product safety etc) lie. You can have liability by simply selling a defective product or a product that infringes a patent - which is why Home Depot and other sellers find themselves in court more often than desired.