We have all had them, those great inspirational ideas that wake us up in the middle of the night wanting to come alive and make us money. Many of these ideas even look good later in the light of day. Unfortunately, all too often as the days and weeks move on, the idea becomes lost in the daily grind. What could have been a profitable thought is all too soon forgotten because it wasn’t acted upon. Do not let that happen to you again!
Ideas that come to us in the night as we sleep are frequently some of the best because they have been conjured up by our subconscious mind while our conscious mind takes a rest. These are the creative ideas that have been rolling around in your head waiting to be discovered when you slow down. The difference between success and failure is simply acting on the ideas you believe to be the most relevant in the current climate and that offer potential reward.
Here are three steps to follow to make the most of your idea.
1. Protect it.
Protection for your idea will generally fall under one of four categories: patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights.
Some of the protection for your idea can be accomplished easily by yourself such as copyrighting an article, like this one. A copyright does not protect the idea, but it does protect the manner in which the idea is expressed. These expressions may be in the form of writing, music, art, computer programs, photographs and other tangible forms of artistic expression.
Trademark law protects your right to exclusively use a name, logo or slogan that identifies and distinguishes the origin of your idea. This concept extends to the “trade dress” of the idea, which means its appearance, and how the idea you have, ultimately becomes packaged or configured.
Trade secrets are the information used in the implementation of your idea, which gives you an advantage over your competition. The key to this protection is that you must treat the information with secrecy. If you make a public disclosure of the information, then others will be free to use it.
Patents are the intellectual property right that protects inventions. For all practical purposes, and outside the field of botany, patents fall into two basic categories. On the most basic level, design patents protect how the invention looks and utility patents protect how the invention works. Patents are the most complicated protective device to secure, but they offer strong protection once you are awarded them.
2. Market Your Idea.
Great ideas are plentiful, but getting the idea to market and making money with it is what separates the casual inventor from the profitable entrepreneur.
Marketing your idea takes two basic roads. You can do it yourself or you can license someone else to do it for you. Which road you should take depends on your own skill set and the amount of money required to get the product to market. If you have neither the skill set to market nor the money to do it, then you should consider licensing your idea or product to someone who does.
A license is the grant of rights for your idea/invention to someone who is willing to spend the time and money to market it for you. As you might imagine, there are big companies that license products and there are entrepreneurs who make their living licensing ideas of others. This classic paring of two different skill sets (creating and marketing) has resulted in many successful projects. In some cases, the inventor takes a royalty for his ideas and does nothing but collect checks in the future. In other situations, the inventor remains involved in the projects. The combinations of how to structure license agreements are seemingly endless, and the answer as to which is best for you is determined by what you and the person who gets your license (licensee) are able to agree to.
A well-structured license agreement can be extremely profitable for both licensor and licensee and is big business today in everything from character licensing to sports licensing of naming rights and apparel. Licensing is a terrific way to make passive income for the rest of your life and offers true rewards for the creative person with a great idea.
3. Enforce Your Rights.
While enforcing your rights is not as exciting as the thought of creating or marketing a hot idea, do not forget that you will have to be vigilant and enforce your rights to keep them.
Music and movie piracy are only two of the more-common forms of intellectual property theft that is all too prevalent in our culture, especially overseas. Anytime there is big money to be made in something, there will be others ready to take what is yours. While this means you may have to one day spend money to enforce your intellectual property rights to protect your ideas, that is not a reason to miss out on the opportunity to gain from your ideas. A considerable body of law has developed in the area of intellectual property rights and protection and the creator who has exercised care in legally protecting his rights should feel comfort that his rights will be enforced.
JW Dicks & Nick Nanton, founders of TheBusinessGrowthLawyers.com, publish the Business Growth ezine monthly covering topics that every business, start-up to international powerhouse, needs to know. Take your business to the next level and get more FREE info now at http://www.TheBusinessGrowthLawyers.com.
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