Sharing Invention with Company


Old 06-15-15, 10:06 AM
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Sharing Invention with Company

I have an idea that I would like to share with a large consumer products company (Johnson and Johnson) and would like to know how best to approach the situation. I was thinking of sending a letter to their corporate headquarters with details of my idea, but am concerned that my idea will be stolen. What can I do to ensure my idea is not stolen and I receive the credit I am due? I realize I could probably get a patent, but that seems like an awful lot of work and I wouldn't know where to start. I'm hoping there is a simpler solution. I know that sounds lazy, but I don't really have much spare time to dedicate to this, which is why I figured I would pitch (and hopefully sell) my idea to JNJ.
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Old 06-15-15, 10:45 AM
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I do understand your problem, but large corporations have generally determine it isn't worth the trouble reviewing all of the "good ideas" that are out there. On the other hand, they will go after one if it has gone into production and the numbers look good.

One of the problems is you have no idea as to their existing collection of good ideas. What you are considering, they may already have on file, or even have a patent on. If you were to send in your idea and get no offer, yet later you saw that idea being used and sold, you would have no way of knowing if it was your idea first or whether it was part of their backlog.

As for a patent, there is a provisional patent process that allows someone to simply file an application and get started, with the intentions of filing for a formal patent within 12 months, I believe. One risk is, you don't know for sure whether there is already a conflicting patent out there until you pay for the extensive search.

You could contact the company without disclosing your idea and ask if they have a process in place. I know IBM, many years ago, would accept ideas from employees and if they implemented that idea they would award a significant cash amount. There are also think tanks that dream up their own ideas and go through the process you are looking for, but they have money and they have the process all ironed out.

In any case, as just an idea it has no ownership and is of no value to you and you are right, if it is really good they will probably use it and ignore you. Pinning them down to allow you to maintain some ownership in it (or be compensated) is something they probably won't do.

Old 06-15-15, 10:49 AM
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If you don't want to patent it, I would be very generic in describing what you have when you contact J&J to see whether they are interested. If not, maybe you're done. If they are interested, I would then look to patent it before they see it.
Old 06-15-15, 10:57 AM
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I stopped getting patents about 10 years ago. They do offer you protection but there are no patent police. It is up to you to enforce your patent. You must catch those infringing on your patent and when you do it usually involves a lawsuit to either make them stop, change their product or to pay you a royalty for the use of your idea. And as you've probably found out patents are not exactly cheap or quick and easy to get.

A patent isn't much protection but without it you don't have much on your side. With it it's still your lawyer against their full time legal dept. Many companies like that prefer a established winner. You develop and market the product and get it established in the marketplace to some extent. Then they buy the product or business from you. Depending on your product or idea QVC is much more open to new products and ideas. Still, you must have a product that can be shipped and sold. I've never had them just give money for an idea. But QVC will take on a new, untried product. If it flies it's up to you to keep up with demand and if it fails you lost a chunk of money.

And boy are you in for it if a big retailer like Walmart picks up your product. One took three months of frantic 24/7 production just to make enough to initially stock the shelves. Then it was in normal production for a couple years before being bought by a big products company you've never heard of and went a couple more years before being bought by an even bigger company that you have heard of.

If all you've got is "hey I've got an idea"... good luck is about all I can offer from my experience. Ideas are common and everyone's got one. A marketable product is a totally different monster.
Old 06-15-15, 11:37 AM
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So many companies have the "NIH" (not invented here) complex. They don't want your idea and if they used it you will have problems getting just compensation. They will "pencil whip" you to death.

Yes, I have been through all this. Have a patent, but no one wants it enough to make an offer. I am down $30K with patent, prototype, and marketing.
If you don't have deep pockets or a 'angel investor' shelf the idea until you do.
Beware the "Vulture Capitalist' that just wants to steal your idea and then kick you out of the company.

(Just for education check out the story of Wally Amos creator of the Famous Amos cookie. He got screw*d big time by vulture capitalists.)

The best approach (if you go forward) is the use of a 'non-disclosure statement'.

Old 07-08-16, 11:17 PM
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If you can somehow get a copy of the July/Aug copy of Popular Mechanics...there's a great story on how a Dr fought for years to get companies to pay royalties for his patented device. He lost after years in court.
Old 07-09-16, 12:14 AM
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Not to discourage you but even if you get a patent and Johnson and Johnson really likes the idea they are first going to want to test your idea. I haven't done many surveys in a while I have been busy and had some problems but I have seen the market research side of ideas and can tell I have seen some ideas fail and some succeed. I really haven't been given any products to try out in many months now but I have tried all kinds of foods and even tooth paste among other things. If they really will like your idea they will pay you and if not they will not and it will be shelved.

People who try these products at home are tough critics and they really have to think that your idea is the absolute best of anything that is made. It has to fit the companies image too and research companies ask that kind of question. They also want to know is this something you might use every day and if it isn't something people would use every day and is uncomfortable you are sunk.

So before you get your patent ask your friends to check your idea out and ask them plenty of questions about it. Obviously be careful in who you choose to select on your panel too. I wish you luck.
Old 07-09-16, 04:15 AM
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