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FORTUNE Small Business:

How can I cash in on my brain child?

FSB's Anne Fisher helps an inventor sell his technology.

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Dear FSB: How can I find entrepreneurs who are seeking new products to develop and market? I have patents on seven inventions in the automotive, consumer goods, and home-improvement categories that I would like to license or sell.

- George Willison Cummings, Ga.

Dear George: Bruce Phillips, senior fellow at the National Federation of Independent Business's Research Foundation in Washington, D.C., says the best way to find entrepreneurs who may be seeking new products for their growing firms is to ask angel investors: "Google 'angel investors,' targeting your region - you'll find groups of investors who often put from $35,000 to $75,000 each into new ventures. They expect those investments to fail about two-thirds of the time." So that means they closely eye the other one-third - entrepreneurs who are making them money. They can tell you which ones might be willing to talk to you.

There are also firms that will help you market your inventions to manufacturers for sale or licensing. The United Inventors Association website provides a directory under professional listings (marketing). But to dodge scams, follow the tips offered by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Another idea: Sign up - for free - with an innovation sourcing firm such as Cleveland-based NineSigma. It services about 70 corporate clients, including DuPont, which issue requests for proposals when they need innovations that aren't emerging in-house.  To top of page

How did you leverage your patented products? Help George by sharing your experiences here.
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