ARE LICENSING AGENTS INCOGNITO?
© By Stephen Paul Gnass
I get many requests from people, asking for a "list of
companies". This question usually implies that they are looking
single company that will take their raw idea and make it a
I explain that in my experience of many years in business
and a few decades
years working exclusively with inventors, that I have found
that there is no such
thing as an "invention promotion firm" or an "invention
that takes an idea completely from idea concept to the market -
for the scams, that is.
INVENTING - IT'S AN A-LA-CARTE PROCESS
Inventing is basically an "a-la-carte" process, meaning that
you will be
picking and using independent specialized vendors for the
you will need performed as you go along. This may come as a
many budding inventors - but I don't believe that there is any
company that can competently and completely handle the whole
from A through Z.
Until proven otherwise, we have not seen success from any
development "factories". In reality, there is no single magic
that will "do it all for you" when you're in the idea stage. Oh
will find many companies that **claim** that they will do it
all for you
for fees - and these are precisely the companies that are the
WHAT ABOUT LICENSING AGENTS AND PRODUCT SCOUTS?
In actuality, what many people are looking for are one of
types of legitimate contacts:
1) LICENSING AGENTS: they represent inventors
products, and find a
company that will license the invention and pay royalties to
2) PRODUCT SCOUTS: they seek new products for their
sometimes they are on the staff of just one corporation.
3) LICENSEES: they are companies that are directly
looking to license
But while it's true that there are licensing agents and
that help inventors get licensing deals and DO NOT charge any
fees, and only take a percentage of any deal that is
negotiated, this next point should be taken to heart if you are
early idea stages right now.
Before getting to the point where an idea can be presented
represented [taken on] by one of these people in order to be
sold, there are MANY PRELIMINARY things that the inventor needs
"first" before approaching these licensing agents or product
Otherwise, the invention will not be seriously considered.
Products scouts, licensing agents, and licensees rarely get
raw idea concepts that are un-researched, unprotected,
feel that these product ideas are still basically figments of
individual's imagination, like "Flash, I've got a great idea
and I just
know it must be worth millions". Instead, the VIP is usually
for ready-to-go, protected products that have substantiated
back up its true value.
If you're in the idea stage, this is the wrong time to seek
licensing agent, product scout or licensing deal. These idea
are initially worth "squat", they have zero value. That's where
phrase "ideas are a dime a dozen" came from. Anybody can have
but it's only when someone does something with the idea that it
A legitimate licensing agent or product scout who will be
time, energy and money into an invention, doesn't want to deal
someone who just has a raw concept where the potential is based
a gut feeling and wishful thinking.
Like when an entrepreneur is seeking venture capital, there
is a well known phrase used among venture capitalists, "oh
yeah, that business plan has been shopped around for
years". Showing your invention too early in the premature
stages when it may not
be ready for months, if not years, could end up getting this
kind of response.
So remember, like the late Actor/Producer/Director Orson Welles
used to say,
.................... "No wine before its time"
So initially, in the early stages, the inventor needs to do
the research and development work, like making sure that the
idea is properly protected, making sure
that the product has a market, making sure the product works,
testing and perfecting the design and function of the
gathering all the needed statistics and proof to present to
licensees or investors.
Until this work has been done, you're not only wasting your
own time in
hunting down product scouts or licensing agents, but their time
So now you know one of the main reasons why legitimate
licensing agents, licensees, and business angels do not usually
advertise their services openly, and why they can be so hard to
Also the specific type of contacts that an inventor needs
depends on this research and
on which path the inventor decides to take in launching his
product. There are two main paths to inventing, entrepreneurial
or licensing, what I call paths "A" & "B".
("A") is to find a product licensee, a company to license your
("B") takes you down the entrepreneurial route.
Each of these paths dictates what kinds of contacts an
inventor should be searching for. For example, if an inventor
is going down path "A", looking to find a licensee for his
product, he will need to learn about licensing, maybe find an
agent, and find the right target markets, etc.
If he's going down "B", the entrepreneurial route, then
depending on what stage he is currently at, he may be looking
venture capital funding, angels, investors, manufacturers,
Our term for all of these types of contacts is "VIPs",
and "VIPs" are the companies and people that we been targeting
and who make up the majority of the demographics that come to
our web site, the Invention Connection® Cyber-show.
VIPS WHO GO "INCOGNITO"
[Note: Incognito: In a nonofficial capacity or under a name
intended to elude public notice. The anonymity assumed by one
In fact, while producing the Invention Convention [IC] trade
consulting 1,000s of inventors for over a decade (prior to
the IC into the online trade show), we discovered a very
phenomenon. True legitimate professionals involved with
products, most often didn't even like to publicize this fact at
VIPs often refused to purchase or wear the special VIP
badges that gave
them extra privileges and recognition. Instead, they preferred
as ordinary people incognito by buying a "consumer visitor"
often wearing blue jeans and t-shirts, and walking up and down
aisles of the exhibit hall, chatting with exhibitors, yet not
recognizable as being executives involved with licensing new
How did we know this? Because I knew many of these VIPs
they asked me not to let the exhibitors know who they were.
years exhibitors reported surprising tales of "incognito" VIPs
revealed their secret identities after expressing interest in
Why would VIPs choose to go incognito? Well, quite frankly,
exhibitors knew that the president or product scout from the
Store or the Sharper Image Catalog was at the show, they would
pounce on them, trying to monopolize their time and attention.
it in relation to Hollywood actors and the paparazzi, where the
get followed around by eager photographers and reporters,
privacy or peace wherever they go.
The VIPs just wanted to take a leisurely look at all the
without any pressure. They didn't want to be spotted because
want to be pitched or sold on any products they were interested
just wanted to be able to review and analyze the products
They found that they were able to do this when they were
perceived to be
regular consumer attendees.
For the exhibitors, I felt that this trend presented a
problem because I
knew that many times the inventor's input and explanation was
for the VIPs, since it wasn't always obvious how the inventions
at first glance.
So we started giving the exhibitors special training on how
to deal with
any prospects that came by their booth. We told them about the
incognito VIPs, and coached them on how to explain the benefits
features of their product in brief phrases to "anyone" who
This worked to help ensure that the VIPs received the
of how the invention functioned. Over the years, I received
compliments including from a reporter, and the product scout
Stores, who told me that we had trained the exhibitors very
GOING INCOGNITO ON THE INTERNET
With the development of the internet as a worldwide
vehicle, in 1999 we evolved the physical trade show into the
Connection online trade show [what we often call the cyber-
cut participation costs for exhibitors considerably by
travel, exhibiting, and booth staffing costs while preserving
and function of the showcase. It also provided a year-long
versus just 3-4 days, to showcase new products to VIPs.
In regards to the incognito VIP, the online trade show is a
medium for them. They are able to seek inventions right from
desktop 24/7. Yet they can easily remain anonymous without
their email boxes, voice mails, and mail boxes will become
unrelated, un-requested , and often unqualified solicitations
inventors with a raw idea i.e. a totally undeveloped idea or
I often explain to my clients that while showcasing an
essential in order to be seen by the incognito VIPs that are
looking for new products, that it's important that inventors
use as many
means as possible to find VIPs. In other words, the cyber-show
be the only marketing activity that an inventor does to find
IS THERE A LIST OF VIPS?
There is no ready-made list that you can just buy, because
invention is in a different industry which has its own nuances
The VIP list that you come up with will be determined
which industry your product falls into, as well as the quality
research. In the one-on-one phone consultations that are
included with a cyber-booth on the InventionConnection.com, I
cyber-exhibiting clients develop a strategy based on their
experience, the level of their invention's development, their
Ultimately, the quality of the list inventors find will
depend on their
due diligence which is the real work, and following up on my
of action for finding targeted VIPs.
Once you have your list, you've just started and you'll be
contacting them and introducing yourself and your product.
You're going to find that it's an ongoing process that requires
dedication and persistence.
I wish you good luck and Godspeed.
Stephen Paul Gnass
Back to Article Index
ABOUT STEPHEN GNASS:
Stephen Paul Gnass is founder of InventionConvention.com,
Executive Director of the National Congress of Inventor
Organizations [NCIO] and an inventors advocate. Mr. Gnass
speaks on the subject of the "Business of Inventing" [tm] and
has had his articles reprinted in various magazines. As Senior
Consultant with the Gnass Group, he consults independent
inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. He can be emailed at
email@example.com or visit www.businessofinventing.com.
A SPECIAL NOTE: Complimentary
If you're further along the path of inventing and are ready to
launch your product, and need assistance in determining whether
to license your idea or build a company around your invention,
I'll be more then happy to offer you a Complimentary
Brainstorm, no obligation. For a Complimentary Brainstorm,
please be sure to include your phone number with area code and
your time zone [continental U.S.] with the best times to call
you back in your email. If you're in Canada or another country,
email us for special instructions.
Sincerely Stephen Paul
P.S. I offer additional brainstorming as part of the cyber-
exhibiting program. Or, if you have special projects or
problems and you need some brainstorming, I also offer a-la-
carte consulting sessions with a special rate for inventors.
Situations like these, that I describe in these articles,
are snapshots at the time that I write them. Things may
change, for example, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rules or laws may
change, etc. In addition to the constant research that we're
doing, I would like to personally speak with anyone that has
had a similar or related experience. Feel free to email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org and include the best time
to get in touch with you.
This article is for general information purposes only and is
not a substitute for legal counsel or financial services. The
information provided is accurate to the best of our knowledge,
and we are not liable for any omissions or incorrect
information. It is the responsibility of the reader to verify
any legal information with appropriate professionals. If you
need specific legal assistance, we recommend that you contact
an attorney or accountant.
Contents, Layout, Style and Source Code Copyright 2003-2011.
Stephen Paul Gnass. All rights reserved.
This article is for the personal use of the subscriber and
may be emailed to friends and family in its entirety.
Publishers: To reprint or host this article, or any part of it,
on your website, contact us to request and obtain advance
written permission and authorization first.