Case Study 10

Technology & Invention Commercialization Programs

Helping an inventor identify a significant barrier to the commercialization of his invention

The Situation
Mr. HandyMan, a successful business entrepreneur, had invented and filed a US provisional patent application for a new and useful household tool. The entrepreneur logically thought that the development of a prototype, following through with the patent application, and identifying and approaching potential licensees would be the next logical steps to enable him to capitalize on his invention.

The Challenge
In order approach a potential licensee with an attractive business opportunity, it was necessary for Mr. Handyman to identify businesses that would be best positioned to utilize the invention. In addition, the target businesses would likely require that the invention was complementary to their existing product lines. Once such candidates were identified and pre-screened, a relevant, professional proposal that illustrated how the licensing opportunity would meet the potential licensees' specific business needs had to be developed.

The Solution
In order to assist HandyMan in formulating a licensing offering for potential licensees, Vertex gathered market intelligence. First, the market was surveyed to identify similar products and to gain an understanding of the businesses that were actively involved in the relevant industry. Secondly, through telephone and face-to-face interviews with retailers, manufacturers, contractors and homeowners, Vertex gained a thorough understanding of tools and procedures currently used to handle the specific task that would be facilitated by the invention.

The Result
During the course of gathering market intelligence, Vertex discovered the existence of a similar product that was patent pending and had just been introduced to the marketplace by a large multi-national toolmaker. Apparently, HandyMan had independently invented the same product. The filing date for the competitive patent would clearly predate HandyMan's patent application date and would thus no doubt prevent his patent from issuing. Since the company's patent application had not published, a routine patent search would not have revealed the existence of the patent application.

While this was clearly disappointing news for HandyMan, he was thankful to have identified the barrier to commercial success at an early stage before product development, patenting and licensing business development time and funds had been expended.

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