Handheld game!
July 12, 2007 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to market a toy to a company, get royalties from it and never file for a patent?

I have this idea for a handheld self-contained mechanical (wheels and tape) role playing game. To my knowledge something like this was never built.
Correct me if I am wrong so I don't go on a hopeless pursuit.
I am working on a 3D model that hopefully will include the full functionality of the game.

Can I propose this to Hasbro or other companies without getting burned?
posted by spacefire to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why do you NOT want to file a patent? I'm just wondering what is holding you back.
posted by BuddhaBelly at 8:55 AM on July 12, 2007

Because filing a patent typically costs thousands of dollars.

I've never designed for the toy industry, but to my knowledge unsolicited design ideas are very rarely considered in any industry. I think the question you want to ask is: how do I get toy companies to consider my idea? And the answer to that lies in this book.
posted by Eringatang at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2007

A patent protects you from having someone else steal and market your idea and design in the event your toy is succesful. Also, from the company's point of view, it's a way for them to be certain that you haven't stolen the idea from someone else who does have a patent on it (not that you would). They wouldn't want to open themselves up to that liability.
posted by la petite marie at 9:24 AM on July 12, 2007

Check out a provisional patent. It's easier, cheaper and you might be able to do it yourself. IANYL.
posted by probablysteve at 9:42 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have nothing against getting a patent shared with the manufacturer if they pay for the legal fees and patent search.
It makes sense, since big companies should have patent lawyers on staff?
posted by spacefire at 9:43 AM on July 12, 2007

Here is a primer on toy licensing. Please do not take it as an endorsement of the firm that wrote it. The invention submission industry is filled with charlatans and is generally not to be trusted. That being said, this firm is more specialized and looks legitimate on its face, but you probably don't need a licensing agent anyway and if you do, research them very, very carefully.
posted by caddis at 11:22 AM on July 12, 2007

I recently read the book The Real Toy Story, and it talked about how inventors propose toys. (I can't remember the specifics about patents and the like, and inventors are not the focus of the book, but it might be a good start. It's a great overview of the industry.)
posted by limeswirltart at 1:02 PM on July 12, 2007

Because filing a patent typically costs thousands of dollars.

And if you're not willing to invest in your own great idea, why would anyone else?
posted by three blind mice at 1:22 PM on July 12, 2007

Is your priority to get money, or to see your idea made into a product? They are somewhat in conflict:

The more time and effort you put into your pre-production, the greater the chance it will go somewhere, BUT the more resources you've paid up front for a nebulous return, thus the less chance of recouping your costs and making money from it.

Most companies are not interested in unsolicited products. Any that are tend to be more interested the more of their work that you've already done for them. Since any stage of production can hit problems that ultimately sink the product, the more stages you can do yourself, proving that it works, is cost-effective, etc, then the less they are risking (because you've already taken the risk) that the product has too many flaws.

So, assuming that "3D model" means a model in software, consider taking it all the way to a working prototype stage.

If, however, this isn't a labour of love in that you really want to see the product made, rather, your priority is just to make money, you're in the high-risk-high-return area of investment, without passion for what you're doing, and my largely uneducated guess would that you probably get better odds by taking your resources to a casino in Vegas.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2007

Slight aside from the question:
Do you know any industrial designers, or people who have similar roles in manufacturing, that you can talk to?

You idea is mechanical, and in the production of mechanical things, it is sometimes surprising what kind of mechanism can be cheap despite its complexity, and what can be expensive despite its simplicity. The price mark-up on toys is staggering, which means manufacturing has to be super cheap. Talking with someone who knows a bit about the manufacturing may help tailor the concept into something less able to be dismissed as too expensive to make. Again, it's more unpaid work (risk) on your park to reduce risk on their part.

posted by -harlequin- at 4:38 PM on July 12, 2007

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