Toys Invented - Now What?
March 30, 2004 11:51 PM   Subscribe

I've invented two toys. One is kid-friendly and easy to produce, and the other would require a plastic mold-injection process (so I can't possibly make a mock-up) but rave-kids would go nuts for it.

Obviously - I guess - I can't say what they are, since I'm afraid of people stealing my ideas. What do I do? Should I just email companies and tell them what my ideas are? Will they steal my ideas, or is it company policy to honor the inventor?

The "kid's toy" one could be easily included in a "Klutz" kid's book, by the way. It's flat.
posted by interrobang to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Strange, a moment after I read this question I wandered into the living room where I'd left the television on. At that moment an ad was showing for this organization . I know nothing about them, and I'm certainly no position to endorse them. Just an interesting coincidence but perhaps worth a look.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:32 AM on March 31, 2004

If you are serious about marketing your idea, see a lawyer before you disclose your idea to anyone.

What you currently have is a common-law "trade secret." It's only as good as the self-restraint you impose on its disclosure. Before you divulge your idea to anyone, you will need to be protected through a nondisclosure agreement restricting the third party's ability to exploit the idea at your expense.

So it's definitely worth a consultation with a good IP lawyer, who can explain the costs and benefits of trying to patent your idea versus restricting access through contract.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:36 AM on March 31, 2004

Here's an interesting thread, readable only in Google's cache. Invention companies like the one I linked above are apparently discouraged. Talking to an IP lawyer might be your best first step.

On preview, what PrinceValium said.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:37 AM on March 31, 2004

You can't just start e-mailing companies because they will throw your idea away without hesitation. If they produce a similar product in the future by coincidence, or are planning some such product, if they had responded to your inquiry, you would have proof that they had access to your work and it opens their company up to being sued by you. Even if they look DO look at it, you generally won't get a response, and they will claim they never saw it.
posted by banished at 2:20 AM on March 31, 2004

I've heard the CEO of Big Idea Group speak, and I can say is that he sounds legit. Whether you like his terms is another matter, but his group, from what I can tell, is not an ISC-like scam.
posted by blueshammer at 4:53 AM on March 31, 2004

On a side note - are there still rave kids running around?
posted by jazzkat11 at 4:53 AM on March 31, 2004

You need to talk to a specialist in Technology Management; somebody who knows about patent applications, licensing and IP. Do not contact companies directly.

Coincidentally, I'm talking to a guy later this week about a widget of my own.
If I find out anything useful I'll post it here.
posted by rog at 7:20 AM on March 31, 2004

I'm probably not saying something you don't already know, so don't take offense, but if you do contact any companies and they want you to put up your own money, they are probably a scam.
posted by mischief at 7:22 AM on March 31, 2004

IANAL, but I think the best thing you can do, before anything else, is to actually make a physical prototype. Document its creation, and photograph it with a timestamp. If you decide to "shop it around", document all meetings and conversations.

Honestly, if this is your first foray, expect to earn pretty much nothing. Unless you've got a mind-blowing invention, your first inventions get you credibility and leverage down the road. It's like publishing or any other business where someone sells something you create.
posted by mkultra at 7:23 AM on March 31, 2004

I have a friend who recently did the same thing, and as he found that it was difficult and annoying to find and contact people all over the globe, he has started a firm to do that work for you. That's about all I know about it, if you want me to put you in touch with him my emails in the profile.
posted by jmgorman at 7:39 AM on March 31, 2004

Response by poster: Okay, thanks for all the suggestions. jmgorman, I've sent you an email.
posted by interrobang at 8:48 PM on March 31, 2004

I could be wrong, but by the sounds of it what you want to do is ask a patent attorney about a registered design rather than a patent.
posted by snarfodox at 1:14 AM on April 1, 2004

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