FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS...
What do you do?
At its very basics, we are the intermediary between you (the inventor) and the company that wants to license your invention. Since these heads of companies are swamped with invention submissions, it becomes very difficult for inventors to reach these important people. They are much more willing to speak with a professionally prepared group that they have had contact with in the past.
Thus, our service is to reach these important executives and prepare appealing marketing material that will impel the manufacturer to produce your invention. It is often the case that great inventions poorly marketed are rejected, whereas a very average invention with an excellent presentation, market research, and negotiation provides the inventor with a substantial licensing agreement. So, if you have a great invention, with the proper agent the possibilities are endless!
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How do you license an invention?
Licensing, as we are using the word, is the buying of the rights to intellectual property (your invention) with the intent to produce it for profit. The inventor who licenses his or her invention receives a percentage of total sales from the manufacturer in the form of a monthly or quarterly royalty check. Thus, you make money by simply giving the manufacturer permission to produce and distribute your invention. You do not have to deal with the management of a factory, packaging, advertising, distribution, accounting, payroll, nothing! Often times they will need technical support from the inventor, but besides that, you give them an address that they send the royalty checks to and you have done your part.
Such an agreement that both parties abide by is called a Licensing Agreement. It is signed by all of the parties involved after negotiation and has various clauses that provide the parameters of the agreement. It deals with such issues as the basis and rate of royalties, how and when the inventor will be compensated, the length of time of the agreement, the territory of the agreement, insurance in case of injury to the customer, etc. We will negotiate for you to insure that a fair and lucrative agreement is in place. We have established licensing agreements that we work from and can show you what constitutes a "fair and lucrative" agreement for the inventor. In addition, if an attorney is needed, which is the case when dealing with larger companies, we will provide one at our cost.
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How do I know that you won't steal my invention?
We understand this question completely. I felt the same way when I approached my patent attorney with my first invention. But for inventors with inventions that are not patented it is important to first sign the Nondisclosure/Confidentiality Agreement. It basically states that we cannot disclose details about your invention unless you specifically say otherwise. With this written documentation, you would be able to easily prove that we viewed your invention when you submitted it, and thus down the road be protected if we were to try to benefit from it. We assure you that this will not be an issue and encourage you to check our record with the Better Business Bureau, Minnesota Inventors Congress, and the National Inventor Fraud Center.
Click below to download the three-page submission packet, which includes the "Nondisclosure/Confidentiality Agreement" and the invention "Submission Form". For your convenience we have included both HTML and PDF versions. To view the forms, in PDF (which print much more neatly) you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Does my invention need to be patented before I submit it?
No, we work with inventions at every stage of development.
Do you represent inventors outside of Minnesota?
Yes, we represent inventors from all over the US, Canada, and the world - most notably English speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, and South Africa. We travel and video conference so that we can establish and maintain a very good relationship with our clients and thus represent them effectively.
What is the first step?
The first step to working with our company is to formally submit your invention so that we can perform our evaluation to determine whether or not we think we can license it for you. You can submit your invention three different ways - online, by fax or by mail.
Included in the evaluation report is analysis on 16 criteria that are critical to the success of licensing your invention, such as profitability, market demand and consumer appeal. Furthermore, we include competitive analysis through research of existing products and issued patents.
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How much is the evaluation? Is there a discount for multiple?
Our only upfront fee is for the initial evaluation process, the cost of which is $199. You will receive a report which focuses on the license feasibility of your item, including our research results with relevant existing patents and products currently on the market.
Also, since our goal is to establish long-term working relationships with creative inventors, after you have submitted one invention, you will receive a 20% discount on the evaluation fee for any future invention submissions. Currently, that means that each invention after the first would only cost $159 (a savings of $40).
What do you charge if you accept my invention after the evaluation?
We fund for the entire process of marketing and licensing. There is no charge for our services unless we are successful. In other words, unless we get you a licensing agreement our service is completely free. That includes everything from the production of marketing material to our travel expenses and representation at tradeshows. In the industry, this is called "contingency-fee basis" and basically means that the only time that we get paid is when we make money for you.
How much of the royalties do you receive if you are successful?
Some licensing agencies take a flat fee for every invention that they represent, from inventions that are scratched on a napkin to well developed products with a prototype and market research completed. At Lambert & Lambert, we feel that such a policy is rather simplistic and unfair. So, since we take inventions at all stages of development, and thus our risk varies, our percentage share ranges from 25% to 30% of licensing revenues (which may include monthly/quarterly royalties, guaranteed minimums and buyouts). That means that the inventor's share is 70% to 75% of those revenues.
It is worth noting that there are many companies who charge upwards of 50% for the same service that we provide, and some also charge you when they are unsuccessful. In addition beware of any company that requires large upfront fees and a low percentage royalty share. These companies may not be in the business of making money for the inventor, but rather getting their large upfront fee.
Is there a licensing representation agreement to be signed?
The licensing representation agreement is the terms and conditions that describe the parameters of our relationship as inventor and agent. It is a fairly simple document that provides both parties with legal protection and is signed by both after the evaluation process. We believe that this is an important step to becoming your licensing agent since it promotes dialogue and clears up any misconceptions that either party may have.
How long does this entire process take?
Since time is of the essence with inventions and patents we seek to move very swiftly without being reckless. We want to get your idea to the market, yet we want to make sure the needed marketing and development is present when it comes to presenting your invention to prospective licensees. With this in mind the time table for our services is the following:
Evaluation: Within 3-4 weeks you will receive notification of the evaluation results.
Preparation & Market Research: Through the process of "immersion", we will collect the needed information that allows us to represent you competently. This includes a great deal of market research to determine the best potential licensees and brainstorming for the angle or "positioning" in which we will market your invention. During this time we will also sign the licensing representation agreement and get a good understanding of your expectations and hopes. This stage usually takes about 2 weeks.
Proof of Concept, Marketing Material, Presentation, & Negotiation: In the remaining months we will work feverishly to license your invention. We do this since many inventors have provisional patents and thus only have a year of protection before the patent must be renewed into a utility or design patent. We develop the material that manufacturers need to accept your invention, which is essentially a proof of concept. Depending upon your invention and the stage of your development, we develop a prototype, develop brochures and videos, do response video taping, surveys or customer feedback, and perform other market research to prove to manufacturers that your product will actually sell.
From start to finish, the average time for the process is 6-9 months, yet it can take as little as 3-4 months or as long as 18 months. It is important to note that the representation agreement states that you may release us as your agent at any time, but we ask that you give us at least 6 months to license your invention before you consider such an option.
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What do I do next?
Feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have. Otherwise we encourage you to submit your invention and begin the process of actually getting paid for your creativity and hard work.
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