How To License an Invention Idea

Ever thought that only physical inventions can me licensed, well, think again. An invention idea can be licensed too. It is not as easy though. As in applying for any license, it can be a long and complicated process. But, if you are confident about your idea, having its technology licensed may provide passive, regular income for years, even decades.

You will have several options with the license that you want to apply for. If your grant is non-exclusive, the income you get from it can even grow annually as you have your licensed technology adopted by more licensees. Below is an overview of how you can license an invention idea.

  • Materials you will need:
      • Desktop computer or laptop with Internet connection
      • Printer
      • Description of your invention, including diagrams and flowcharts
  • Trim down your invention idea. Ideas can be overwhelming if not filtered properly.
  • Try to scale down your invention idea into a more tangible product. This way, it would be easier for you to describe your idea in detail in an organized manner. If possible, create a prototype.
  • Do a research on previous patented technology. Make sure that you are not violating any existing patent rights with your invention. Also, check if some aspect of your work was once patented but has already expired. In this situation, it would be free for anyone to use. You can research on any Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries within your area.
  • Is your invention novel, useful and non-obvious? Check the legal definitions and determine where amongst these your invention falls under. Remember to include diagrams and other specifications that will help you justify and describe your invention. It should have a convincing claims be it novelty, utility or non-obvious.
  • Go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and file for a patent application. A more convenient way is to submit your application online. An application fee is required for the processing of your application.
  • Be prepared to respond to questions from the USPTO. USPTO can ask several questions and even raise objections. Be ready to defend your work and be open to amending your application several times. This is a back-and-forth process that may take a while. At times, it can take 2 years, or even more, to get the final approval.
  • Look for possible licensees of your invention. It would be better to work with intellectual property lawyers who can help you with locating likely licensees. Trade associations are also a nice place to search.
  • Bargain with possible licensees. Draft a technology licensing agreement with potential licensees. You should now be able to decide whether you would like to have your invention license exclusively or non-exclusively. Note that licensees pay more for exclusive licenses. However, this will prevent you from licensing your invention to other people.
  • Get an international protection. Think about getting an international license for your invention. Check out The Berne Convention Treaty. They might help you with the processing.

If you have extra funds, it would be best to hire an experienced patent attorney that can help you in each step. This way, you will be sure that you can get proper guidance and assistance that could give you a better chance at having the license you applied for.


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