“[P]atents create jobs. Patents enable innovators to put products and services in the marketplace and to hire people. They create opportunity and they put Americans to work.”
– David Kappos, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
According to an interview on American Public Media's Marketplace, many Americans are filing patents and the number is going up. For those of you who already secured a patent, you may wonder how to use it to start making money. While there may not be one way that is cut in stone, there are a number of ways to make your patent work for you. With the rise of the Internet, there is a growing marketplace for patents.
Do It Yourself
If you have some business savvy and a few marketing skills, you can contact companies directly. Whether you want to license your patent for a period of time or sell it outright, companies need innovation and may work with you. Below are a few ways to find companies that might be interested in your patent.
- Search for companies. ThomasNet is an industrial search engine listing thousands of companies in different categories. You can research companies to contact.
- Set up a website or blog. Setting up a website and maybe a blog is another way to promote your invention online. This way companies may find you first. If they don't find you, when you contact companies, you'll have a professional online presence to show them.
- Run an ad. Running an ad in a trade publication specific to your industry is another way to catch the eye of a prospective company. For example, if you have a patent for a new way to recycle glass, and there is a publication that people in the glass manufacturing industry read, it's possible that you may pique the interest of someone who is looking for ways to change part of the business process.
Place a free online listing.
- Idea Buyer: According to the website, they provide a new product database that lets consumer product companies search for original product ideas over several industries. Inventors can list patents that they have for sale and connect with companies.
- Patent Auction.com: This is another website that lists patents available for sale. The front page shows a list of newly listed patents that are being bid on. Some have prices listed; others say, “To be negotiated.”
Use a professional patent broker.
With all the options available in the marketplace for patents, sellers must be prudent and watch out for their own interests. There may be an attorney acting on behalf of the buyer, but that does not mean that they have the seller's best interest in mind. Each situation is different. When selling a patent, it may be a good idea to seek independent legal advice from an attorney with specific knowledge in this area to advise you regarding your unique circumstances.
Patent applications jumped up during recession, by Tess Vigeland, August 19, 2010