Hoop Dreams

Options For Protection

Polly Want A Patent?

Patentauction.com is a new site where inventors can list their inventions for sale. While most inventors dream of a mad bidding war for their product, in reality most patents are doing well to attract just one interested party. According to Byron Donzis, patentauction's founder, the site currently has about 375 patents listed, receives more than 150,000 visits per month and has been the catalyst behind eight licensing agreements over the past two years.

However, patentauction only lists a brief patent description and doesn't provide financial, marketing or development services for a product, so Donzis urges inventors to also list a Web site where interested parties can find more details. The $195 to $3,500 cost for a six-month listing can be renewed at no charge for a second six months if needed. The site also charges a 10 to 20 percent commission for any license agreement signed. Notes Donzis, "Inventors who have successfully marketed their products have the best chance of getting a license." Inventors who haven't produced and sold their product have a lower chance of success; however, according to Donzis, "some patents on products that have never been sold have attracted substantial interest."

Rest Insured

Product Liability Insurance is available from many independent insurance agencies that specialize in business insurance.You can often find these agencies in the Yellow Pages in metropolitan areas. Product liability presents problems for many inventors because it requires an upfront fee of $2,500 to $20,000, depending on the product. That fee only covers a certain level of sales, and total costs can go up if a product is successful. For example, your liability insurance could be 4 to 5 percent of sales for a transportation product. A $10,000 initial fee will only cover $200,000 in sales; if sales exceed that amount, inventors have to pay an additional insurance fee. Bicycle accessories, where liability claims can develop, have higher rates than simple hardware products. Many retailers require suppliers to have liability insurance before they'll sell a product.


Don Debelak is a new-business marketing consultant who has been introducing new products for more than 20 years. He is the author of Bringing Your Product to Market(John Wiley & Sons).

Contact Source

  • Pickup Hoops, c/o Jason Parr, P.O. Box 251322, West Bloomfield, MI 48325, (313) 534-8734
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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hoop Dreams.

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