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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing In on Your Inventions
Richard C. Levy

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing In on Your Inventions book cover picture

The Complete Idiot's Guides are generally good books and this is no exception. Richard Levy, creator of Furby, the Hot Lixx toy electronic guitar, Switchblade toy vehicles, and a variety of games--all of which combined have sold to the tune of over $1 billion, has done a very good job of drawing from his own experience and substantial research to create this book. The book does a very solid job of covering the basic points of inventing and successful licensing and relates some of his experiences–successful and not–along the way. You'll get a good handle on why he recommends the approach he does–essentially get your invention near production ready before approaching a firm that markets in your field with a licensing "opportunity." You don't have to set up production but your invention should be designed so that the company can do so without redesign.

Patents and attorneys and licenses (including 10 page "real life" licensing agreement that will put you sound asleep by page 2 if you're not careful) are, of course, covered but only to a moderate level of depth. [This catalog has specific books with more depth on patenting and licensing.] Unfortunately some oversimplifications creep in however very few of the over simplifications, if any, will get you in trouble if you study the whole book. For example: "Provisional Patents" which don't really exist are discussed repeatedly before it is revealed that what is being talked about is the limited Provisional Application for Patent which is never enforceable; also page 14 will tell you that the USPTO maintains all patent applications in the strictest confidence until the patent is issued but many chapters later you'll learn that is simply false since the 18 month publication rule (with exceptions) took effect and that even Provisional Applications which never issue can be made public by the PTO. You are also mistakenly instructed to file the no longer required small entity declaration form. Patent laws and rules change fast and no book can keep up with them but still it would be nice if it were current when it was published.

The discussion about how to hire and use a patent practitioner (attorney or agent) is very applicable–know what you are doing and find one you trust to work for you in your best interests rather than their own. Also excellent are "Levy's 10 Commandments for Success," Levy's 10 Commandments of Contract Negotiation," and his "Questions for Self-Analysis." When he is writing his own words of wisdom it's all great stuff but when he is paraphrasing what the law says, for example, it's only "middlin'" level compared to some other books until...

Until he dives into new territory that is not well covered in other inventor books. The chapters on plant patents, design patents, trade secrets, government resources, and toy inventing all shine. In fact the price of the book is well worth it just for the secrets to breaking into the toy industry revealed on page 300 not to mention the 3 pages of listings of toy manufacturers that are receptive to independent inventor submissions.

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