Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The above poem,one of the most oft quoted from poet Robert Frost, resonates with millions more than 100 years after it was written.
Inventing – The Road(s) Not Traveled (less taken)
I particularly appreciate that choosing to be an inventor – not as a hobby or for weekend tinkering – but as a full-time career, as I have chosen to do, is truly a road less taken (excuse my taking liberties with the poetry to fit my needs).
I struggled for over 5 years doing whatever I had to do to keep my business afloat pursuing my dream of turning my product, then called Savvy Caddy thin wallets, into a commercial success as Wonder Wallet today.
My circuitous course seemed destined, not to success, but rather bankruptcy, as I worked long hours, 7 days per week, while falling further into debt. But, I simply refused to give up on my product and its potential and, in the end, I achieved success.
Today I am supremely grateful that, for me, that path has indeed ‘made all the difference' in my life.
Other Paths Less Taken …
Sometimes inventors fail to recognize that there are more than two paths available to them in pursuing their dreams. The two paths most focus upon are:
- Building a business around their invention – manufacturing and marketing it themselves
- Licensing their invention to a manufacturer in exchange for royalty payments based upon sales
Often, however, things don't work out and neither of the above paths are available to the inventor.
- Sometimes another inventor already owns an patent for a very similar item, minimizing your chance to obtain a patent. With no patent, you will not be able to license the product.
- Sometimes the field is crowded with many long expired patents – prior art – so you cannot obtain a patent. Here again, no patent for you and slim odds on licensing the product.
In such circumstances, you feel crushed, the product you have put so much time, emotion, and energy into has no chance for success.
Unless …. like Robert Frost, you discover a road not taken.
To Patent or Not to Patent, That is the Question
Now I must apologize to Shakespeare for again hijacking poetry for my own purposes.
In scenario 1 above, it is useful to do some detective work, trolling the marketplace and the USPTO.gov website. Is the product being sold anywhere in the marketplace (most often, it is not)? Also, how long ago did the patent issue?
Why not offer to buy all patent rights from the inventor? He or she may have spent years and thousands of dollars attempting to market the invention to no avail. He or she might accept a small payment – perhaps $3,000 – $5,000 – to transfer all patent (and trademark) rights to you. Then, their patent becomes yours without having to travel the maze of the US Patent system. You just need to feel certain that you have a path forward to more success than they found.
In scenario 2 above, you also can be in a position to manufacture and sell your invention – without worries of infringement of any active patent. There are thousands of products sold in the marketplace that are not patented, often because they cannot be patented.
Inventors are naturally creative people, but sometimes they forget to apply their creativity towards marketing their inventions.
Maybe you should consider taking a road less traveled by….