Inventors: The 11 most common mistakes

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:45 pm

Carlos de la Huerga and his group at Mequon-based Telaric Ideas LLC are inventors who offer consulting work on a part-time basis to inventors based on their own experiences. Huerga and his partners, Allen Oelschlaeger and Scott Kroeger, co-wrote a white paper to make sure inventors are aware of some major mistakes and dangers that could cost them time and money. The full report can be downloaded for free from Here are some excerpts:

1. Spending lots of money before identifying a few customers:

At the end of the day, an invention will only have financial value if there is someone willing to pay for it.

2. Not developing a basic invention plan:

The goals of the invention plan are to ensure that the invention process heads in the direction the inventor wants and to improve the odds for success. The plan should include business goals and personal goals.

3. Using the wrong advisors to get the assistance an inventor needs:

Lawyers and accountants should be used only to help in the areas that they have true expertise. But once an inventor needs assistance outside the narrow area in which they practice, the inventor must look elsewhere.

4. Working with an invention marketing company:

Don’t even consider it. The invention-promotion business is a $200 million per year industry and rarely do the companies produce any positive results. The Dec. 4, 2000 issue of Time magazine reported that 25,000 inventors are ripped off per year because of this industry.

5. Allocating financial resources inappropriately:

At each step of the process, there are priorities that need to be addressed. If an inventor established the wrong priorities or, worse, did not develop a list of priorities at all, the inventor can blow a lot of cash and get very little return.

6. Not working with a patent professional in an effective and cost-efficient manner:

Do not turn over the whole patent process to the patent professional. The inventor must stay involved, ask the tough questions and work in tandem with that person to construct the highest quality patent possible.

7. Devoting too much time and energy to the patent:

The longer the patent, the more likely contradictions will exist.

8. Having a single patent as the sole source of protection:

A patent does not give the owner or licensee the right to make a product without interference or competition from others. Instead, it creates an intellectual fence around a property. Other sources of protection can come from strategic partnerships, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, exclusive distribution channels, customer relationships, investment partners, or having certain people on the management team.

9.  Believing that the patent covers more property than it does:

Before investing in building a company or a licensing campaign around a patent, it is critical that the inventor understands the true nature of what is protected in the patent and that the patent has well-constructed claims that are not ambiguous, are not contradicted by interactions with the patent examiner and that are tightly linked to the patent text and drawings.

10. Not understanding and considering the intricacies of the various options for profiting from the invention:

There are four main business strategies: negotiate a license with a company, sell the invention to a company, litigate the patent in federal court against a suspected infringer and start or expand a business that builds a product based on the invention. It is critically important that the business strategy the inventor selects aligns with the inventor’s business and personal goals.

11. Not understanding the mindset of investors or corporations:

Successful inventors and successful business people have inherently different personalities and views of the world. The obvious challenge for the inventor is to find a way to present the invention to the business person in a way that hits his or her hot buttons, rather than the hot buttons of the inventor.


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