The Tampa Bay INVENTOR The Official Publication of the Tampa Bay Inventor's Council JAN / FEB 2006 Hear All About TV Reality This Year’s Shows: Really Big CES Good or Bad ? By Bob Lougher, UIA Executive Show Director p. 2 p. 7 Summary of The Most Speakers for Common Nov./Dec. p. 3 Mistakes First Time Inventors Make by Steven Thrasher Make Plans to p. 8 Come and Hear Our Next Ask The Experts Speakers From the U.I.A. p. 4 P. 11 Progress Report: LAS VEGAS • JAN 5-8 2006 Machine Shop Check Out Class National by Rob Aiken Upcoming p. 5 Events p. 10 "Inventors Helping Inventors" JOIN US EACH The Tampa Bay Inventor's Council is here to help you succeed, forge ahead, maintain your purpose, 2nd and 4th WEDNESDAY and achieve what you intend to. Everyone in this group is behind you. EVERY MONTH SM 10750-A Endeavor Way, VISIT OUR WEBSITE: www.tbic.us Largo FL 33777 GET NEWS UPDATES: (727) 548-5083 www.tbicnews.blogspot.com My Visit to the CES In Las Vegas By Wayne Rasanen, Vice President The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), January 5-8 2006 is THE largest electronics show in the world, and this year was a record year with over 150,000 people walking 1.67 million square feet of displays in three different locations in Las Vegas. If you have never been to Las Vegas, CES is all the excuse you need to make the trip to the glitziest city in the world. Although CES is not open to the general public, a few connections and some minor qualifications can get you free admission to the debut launch of several key technologies. The hotels filled up quickly and if you didn’t book your room early, you had to settle for locations far from the action. The main event was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center with three huge halls. The South Hall was divided into four parts, 1 & 2 downstairs held mostly audio-video gear and 3 & 4 upstairs had a lot of computer related companies such as ATI, Nvida, Palm, and Creative to name a few. Each floor would compare to the Jacob Javits Center in New York and each section was bigger than the entire convention center at the Mirage. The Central Hall is by far the biggest hall and housed all the really big players such as Microsoft, Intel, Panasonic, Sony, and Toshiba. Everyone brought out their latest products for a full hands-on presentation. The X-Box 360 display was almost always three people deep waiting for a chance to try out the dozen machines, each with a different game. Sony had their new electronic book, a small tablet sporting e-paper. The batteries are good for over 10,000 page turns because the image remains without drawing power. XM Satellite Radio hosted a series of live performances and I managed to score a signed DVD (one of only ten) from Jon Anderson of the rock group “Yes” fame after he entertained us with song! The North Hall featured cars, and lots of them. Everything you can put into a car such as GPS, video screens and some ‘killer’ audio was on display in ways you can’t imagine. It was like MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” on steroids. Many of the cars would likely never see the open road, but were purely show pieces. There were also plenty of classic cars and trucks built for fun and travel but probably cost as much as a three-bedroom condo. Just outside the North hall was the Las Vegas Hilton where most of the Asian manufacturers displayed their products from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Keep in mind that this is only one of the three locations and it also had a few displays outside these massive halls, such as the House of Tomorrow and the ‘Ultimate Dorm Room’. ( Continued on Page 12 ) Page 2 Past Speakers Center specifically for light manufacturing. Even a cafeteria and day- November 9th care center are in the compound, thus enabling the start-up to attract and retain Our guest speaker was Tonya Clark, employees. The program also provides representing the STAR TEC Business most of the administrative and book- Acceleration Center. Located only ½ mile keeping duties for its client companies. from our meeting room, STAR TEC helps fledgling start-ups remain focused on their For an inventor to be considered for the business strategy by providing them with a program, he/she must be a business referral network of contacts and entity with an existing team and an connections; mentoring, management existing prototype, and have sales for at guidance and educational programs; least six months. The access to local, national and international inventor/entrepreneur is required to markets; and access to capital. Inventors invest some of his/her own money into are only one category of entrepreneurs that the venture as seed capital. STAR TEC may benefit from the program. STAR TEC looks very closely at the team -- talents, is a non-profit organization funded by abilities, experience, commitment. With client fees, government grants and private the inventor having selected the right donations. Its purpose is to promote team, STAR TEC can then work with the economic growth locally. The program is team to design a realistic and do-able especially good at matching up small business strategy. businesses with government contracts. After Tonya finished, a general A start-up joins the program by agreeing to discussion about invention innovation give STAR TEC a portion of the start-up’s ensued. stock or some other ownership interest. Then the start-up leases space in the Center at lower-than-market rates and December 14th uses the space as its home office throughout the enrollment period. We had two sets of guest speakers tonight. Currently seven companies are in the program. As each “graduates” and moves The first set consisted of Don Patz and on, a new one joins. Mike Smutko, representing the local chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. SME’s main mission is The STAR TEC team consists of 29 education about manufacturing. Through individuals; only three are employees and regularly scheduled meetings and the rest are volunteers. Also several local activities, SME chapters serve as local businesses provide the program with forums for networking and contact resources and specialized assistance. building, information sharing and problem Mentoring is provided by members of solving. Chapters organize and sponsor STAR TEC ’s advisory board, most of plant tours, conferences, guest speakers, whom are on various local corporations’ special events and other illuminating boards-of-directors. activities. Don and Mike stressed that members are from many fields, not just engineering. Membership is open to The program cannot help inventors who anyone from any background, and only intend to licence their inventions or sell costs about $80 per year. The local chapter their patents. It definitely can help those has its general meetings (open to anyone) inventors who intend to manufacture and at 6:00 pm on the 3rd Thurs. of each sell their products themselves. There is month. These meetings are held very close space available within the STAR TEC Page 3 to the TBIC clubhouse: inside the facilities units (remember: the bigger the batch, the of Concurrent Technologies Corp. at 7935 cheaper is each unit within the batch) and N. 114 Ave, Largo, FL. Visit the local instead pay a lot more to have only one chapter’s website at . SME’s local chapter unit made. Then sell that unit. Doors are often has field trips to manufacturing much more likely to be opened for you if companies in the area, and non-members you have some verified sales, no matter are welcome to attend. But reservations are how small. A large-batch production run required; simply go to the website and can be made after the doors have been make the arrangements. And get onto the opened. He also said that simple local e-mail list too. Every how-to-invent inventions make the most money because book warns that common stumbling blocks the more complicated your invention is, for most independent inventors are an the easier is a competitor’s task of ignorance about general manufacturing circumventing your patent claims. processes and not knowing anyone in the manufacturing field for advice or answers. Upcoming Speakers An inventor’s greatest resource is his/her For January contacts & connections -- that is; who he/she knows. Here is a local chapter of Last year we saw the start and casting of manufacturing experts who love to gather several new TV shows featuring inventors. regularly and share their expertise with This year they will be aired in millions of whoever wishes to listen. homes around the nation(s). Being an inventor today is a powerful thing with the Next up was inventor Bob Solomon ability to change the world like never before. describing the successes and failures of his (Please note, Rock Stars still get more groupies!) invention projects, and what he learned from them. He developed a toilet seat that Make sure you get off on the right foot & assists the person with sitting and standing, make plans to attend our first TBIC meeting ideal for the disabled and elderly. After on January 11th. Our guest will be Mr. discovering that this idea had been recently Edward Dutkiewicz, Registered Patent patented by someone else, he contacted Attorney and all around good guy. Ed will that inventor and bought the patent. address all of our questions (as time permits) Subsequent manufacturing R&D revealed about protecting your intellectual property. that the manufacturing cost would require The first step with any invention is always to a retail price that was much higher than his make sure you have your ducks in a row market research showed people would pay. before you let the cat out of the bag!...I'll let Therefore the product would not be you think about that one for a few seconds.... feasible to produce unless Medicare would be willing to underwrite most of the retail Next up on January 25th, our meeting will price for qualified recipients. cover how to license your ideas to Unfortunately Medicare did not approve corporations with our special guest, Mr. the product, his investors pulled the plug Robert Oros of Business Development and the project crashed. Bob was faced Resources. Robert will tell you about a step with the gut-wrenching decision of by step process that can enhance your ability continuing to push, push, push ahead to become successful in licensing your anyway, or to accept defeat, give up and inventions. As you may already know, less move on. He chose the latter; knowing than 4% of patents typically earn much when to fold and learning how to let go is money. I believe that if we can improve our what he gained from the experience and odds of success, than we must! Robert will shared with us. His current project is a cover Strategic growth opportunity, due hermetically sealed, air-tight storage shed, diligence, technology development, and everything looks like a green light branding & licensing. If you are serious now. One piece of advice he gave is: in the about being an inventor, you don't want to early part of your project’s manufacturing miss the opportunities we have this January! stage, resist the temptation to pay a Remember, for directions and information, manufacturer to produce a large number of visit our website www.tbic.us Page 4 Ed Holdgate's So how does learning machine shop Machine Shop Class practices help an inventor? Obviously by Rob Aiken doing the work yourself is much cheaper than paying a machinist to do it for you. Back in October, club member Ed But if you should need to hire a machine Holdgate volunteered to teach basic shop, knowing the basics makes it easy to machine shop skills to anyone interested. communicate effectively with the Four members (Bruce Gordon, Pete machinist and/or engineer. The same Lefferson, Robert Shaw & myself) along applies when searching for a with two nonmembers (Robert's father manufacturer, because these basic Lloyd and John Toth) are now receiving machine shop practices are the foundation this training, and we love it! of many manufacturing processes. We are really digging-in to this We six students still have several weeks to personalized hands-on instruction, four go. If Ed makes this offer to TBIC again I hours a day, one day a week. Ed's would certainly recommend going for it. common-sense teaching method is easy Jump in! If you feel that you are not to follow and his home workshop is well especially mechanical, or even if running a stocked. This is the fun way to learn and it big mechanical monster is intimidating for doesn't cost a dime. you, don't worry. This is informal, personalized instruction in a very small The man is well qualified to teach us. He group of friends. Ed knows how to slow began his career as an apprentice while in down or modify the lesson in accordance high school, and did standard machine to your needs. Best of all, it's fun! shop work for several years. Then he taught machine shop practices in an Ed Holdgate is a fantastic, selfless person! apprenticeship program managed by the Asking nothing in return, he teaches Kodak Corp. During his years with machine shop to others because this is Kodak over 6,000 people received hands- what he does best and what he loves to do. on training from Ed. Now retired, he does A genuine expert in the fields of machine volunteer machine shop work and shop work and machine shop education, training for the Coast Guard airbase, Ed is a tireless volunteer spirit and a true numerous small businesses and inspiration to others. Thank you Ed individuals. And he keeps busy with his Holdgate! TBIC is very fortunate to have own projects and inventions. Ed has you as a member. received income from some of his inventions over the years. Most of the learning centers around operation of the vertical mill and the lathe, with smatterings of band-saw, drill press, grinder and workbench practices. Each student is building his own miniature model of a sailing ship's cannon in accordance with Ed's blueprints. But when each day's lesson is over, we can remain and work on our own GET LATE-BREAKING TBIC NEWS www.tbicnews.blogspot.com invention projects with Ed's expert Stay Informed – See what’s new assistance and advice. What could possibly be better? Page 5 ALERT ! Membership There has been at least one complaint of receipt of unsolicited/non-opted email that appears to have sourced our TBIC mailing list. We will never use Make your inventing your contact information for anything but TBIC process more effective and related matters, nor will we sell or give this more fun ! information to others for such use. If you are receiving emails that are not TBIC related, but you Bring a Friend ! feel are being sent as a result of your contact information with TBIC (for example a unique email address you only use for TBIC), please A few benefits you will enjoy: forward the email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will have the TBIC attorney forward it to the • Monthly Newsletters appropriate Federal/State Authority. You have our • Free Workshops apologies in advance if this is happening to you. We make every reasonable effort to protect your • Updates on Legislation privacy. Unfortunately, with the switch to a bi- affecting the industry monthly newsletter, we must rely on emails more to appraise you of speakers, special events and • Current Industry News alerts. • Focus Groups VISITORS WELCOME • Inventor-Related Computer Programs The Board of Directors of TBIC wants • Inventor’s Library to welcome all visitors. We hope that you can see the benefits of becoming a • Formal Presentations to Marketing Media Representatives member. Our bylaws allow visitors to attend two meetings without obligation. • Access to Machine & Wood Shops Membership Chairperson: Paul Simmons Member exchange This note is to encourage any member who has a need to post it in our “Members Exchange” department. This is not intended as a sale area to promote businesses, but rather for members to post needs and request for help on invention related matters. Listings are free and subject to editing for space and clarity. Must submit to Gary Simmons (email@example.com) by end of third week of the month prior to next publication. Membership fees have changed Examples would be: • Need a packaging prototype. Require graphics and At a recent Board meeting, it was decided blister pack expertise. Contact Tom Edison at by the Board of Directors that we needed Phone/E-mail/Snail Mail address. to change our membership structure and fees. • Need someone to convert my 2d drawings to *.dwg format. Contact Orville Wright at Phone/E- Starting on January 1, 2005 the mail/Snail Mail address. membership categories and fees will be as follows: Student/Jr. Einstein----------------$ 25.00 GET LATE-BREAKING TBIC NEWS Sustaining Members (6 mos.)----$ 65.00 www.tbicnews.blogspot.com Sustaining Members (annual)---$125.00 Stay Informed – See what’s new Corporate Members --------------$250.00 Page 6 TV Reality Shows (Good or Bad) By Bob Lougher, UIA Executive Director Recently, the most frequent inquires received at the UIA involve the growing number of TV Inventor Reality Shows. The questions are: "Are they a scam?" or "Do you endorse them?" As far as endorsement, the UIA is a nonprofit educational institution and is not an endorsement agency. We are an informational organization and, as such, disseminate pertinent information to inventors as we receive it. We do screen all information before we send it out. This is never a foolproof method and should not be construed as any form of endorsement. Because of the very strict contractual agreements required by some shows, some people are asking, "Is this a scam?" I would say, "absolutely not." A scam sugarcoats or conceals relevant information. These contracts are right in your face, to read, and take to an attorney, etc. I, myself, would probably not sign such a contract. This would be my own personal preference. However, for every one of me there are probably a hundred that would sign for their own reasons. I would be surprised if these Network Shows didn't have all those technical clauses in their contract. They have an army of attorneys looking out for their best interest and they are going to cover every possible base. If you, as the inventor, have doubts or questions, get sound legal advice. Many experts have said that even bad publicity is publicity. Who knows what will happen in front of tens of millions of viewers? It may even somehow get the word out there that there is legitimate help available. Shame on any inventor that does not get legal or professional advice before signing any contract. Acontract will not be any sort of gage on how good, accurate, positive or negative any show will be. The one thing we know at this point is that "it will be watched by millions." The final decision to participate lies solely with the inventor. For good reasons, bad reasons, personal reasons, it is still the individual inventor's call. Signing rights of inventions over to a company that has such a huge media presence may not be all bad, all the time, to everyone. Think of the hundreds or thousands of inventors that are currently going nowhere with their inventions and this opportunity comes along To this individual, you could have a no lose situation. Not every situati= on is the same and to some it could be bad. Use common sense and get sound advice. Because of the nature of television, we have to wait for the actual airing of the episodes. It is only then that anyone will be able to cast judgment. Personally, I do not watch Network Television. I guess I do not fit into their demographics. It is my understanding that Reality TV historically has represented anything but reality. Even if I don't like it, there is always the possibility that some of those hard working inventors may hit it big. Enjoy the popularity that inventors are now experiencing. That could change tomorrow. This type of show may be good for some and bad for others. Get sound legal advice and contact your nearest inventor support group for their opinion. Reprinted with permission from the Newsletter of the United InventorsAssociation Www.uiausa.org United InventorsAssociation PO Box 23447 Rochester, NY 14692 Page 7 The Most Common Mistakes First Time Inventors Make By Steven Thrasher, Registered Patent Attorney A successful inventor is someone like you--a person who dreams up a great idea, protects the idea, and then turns the idea into an asset. The successful inventor then engineers a product to implement that idea, prototypes it, finds a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer, and develops an appropriate marketing strategy. Of course, a successful inventor is also one who successfully licenses an invention. It's tough to be a successful inventor-and first time inventors face their challenges without the education of experience. They just make too many fatal mistakes! However, many of these mistakes are predictable and avoidable. This article discusses the biggest mistakes I see inventors make. 1. Due Diligence Due diligence means making a real effort to make sure you're doing the right thing. By analogy, due diligence on the road means at least knowing the speed limit – if you get pulled over, claiming that you don't know the speed limit will n e v e r be accepted as an excuse. In other words, the law does not allow a person to behave as an ostrich and place your head in the sand--you have an affirmative duty to be aware of your legal and inventive surroundings. Unfortunately, most inventors don't know what they're supposed to do, and so very few do everything for which they are held accountable. For example, if you make a product that infringes a patent, the penalty for intentional or knowing infringement are more than three times the penalties for innocently infringing a patent. So, you want to tell the court you did not know about the patent. However, if you did not search for relevant patents on the products you produce, the court may conclude that if you had searched (done your due diligence--like looking for a speed limit sign), you would have found the patent. If they conclude this, the effect is as if you had found the patent and decided to produce your product anyway. However, if you had done a legitimate patent search, whether or not you found that patent you would be better off. If the search concludes that there is not infringement, then you have the search report to back you up. If the search concludes that there is infringement, you can re-engineer the product to work-around the patent, or seek a more favorable license. Similar consequences apply to filing information disclosure statements and many other intellectual property matters. The only way to know how to spot all these due diligence matters is to seek the advice of a patent attorney! 2. PromotingAFavorite Idea, Rather Than The Best Invention Most inventors have more than one idea that they'd just love to produce, make, and market. This should be an advantage. However, many inventors with limited resources choose to move forward on one idea above all others for many reasons that are, practically speaking, irrelevant. Some choose an idea because it's their first idea, the most complex idea, the most high-tech idea, or they think that it's the idea that will impress everyone the most. These are bad reasons to choose one idea over another. These reasons have little to do with product success, and they may even indicate that the idea will face expensive technical or production challenges, or unlikely market acceptance. To minimize the likelihood of making this mistake, talk with your patent attorney and invention consultant about all your ideas (or as many as are manageable), and objectively rank each idea based on relevant factors. Relevant factors include at least: the market need (does the invention Page 8 meets that need?), market acceptance, market size, time required to engineer and produce a product, product development cost, and ultimate product cost in the market, for example. If your patent attorney cannot help you with these factors, they should direct you to someone who can. If they don't direct you to qualified help, seek another patent attorney. 3. MistakesAbout Selling Ideas Some inventors believe that they can trick a company into paying them for an idea by using a non-disclosure agreement. In fact, this happened so many times that concepts have developed at law to prevent this kind of invention abuse. Other inventors try to sell an idea--without anything else. If someone knocked on your door, would you ever pay them money just to tell you something, especially if you thought anyone could copy it or do it? Of course not! No company will, either. Companies, and rational investors, invest in assets. With only a few exceptions, t h e only ways ideas can become assets are through patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Don't let anyone but a patent attorney tell you otherwise! 4. Patenting Mistakes Some inventors try to do things on the cheap--they almost always end up losing everything. YOU DO NOT GET RIGHTS TO AN INVENTION IF YOU MAIL YOURSELF AN IDEA IN A SELF-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE. Don't sit on an idea--legal rules in the US and outside the US severely punish inventors who do n o t file a timely patent--if you have an idea that may be worth protecting, see a patent attorney immediately. The other BIG mistake inventors make is thinking t h a t they can patent-it-themselves. Consider the odds: 1) the books on self- patenting are as long as some Russian novels, 2) by the time you complete chapter ten (if you understand it at all) you'll have forgotten what you read in chapter one, 3) it wastes very valuable time pursuing your idea, 4) it is discouraging to read complicated books on legal theory, and 5) no book on self-patenting is comprehensive enough to guide you through all the barricades the patent office c a n throw at you. Maybe the best evidence that you need a patent attorney is that the U S Patent Office strongly recommends it. It amazes me that some people who wouldn't dream of changing their own oil (which can be taught in about 30 minutes) try to write their own patent (which takes hundreds of law-school class hours, hundreds of continuing education hours, and hundreds of on-the-job- training hours). There is but one way to minimize patent mistakes – get a patent attorney! 5. Calling an Invention Marketing Scam Marketing scam companies ripped-off Americans to the tune of over $100 million last year. How can you know who's a true professional? The best way is to get a referral from someone you know and trust who has used and been pleased with the professional's service. If you do not know anyone who has worked with a particular patent attorney before, check to see that they are not listed as being a questionable company on the patent office's or the federal trade commission websites – it's best to avoid such risk. Then, assuming you do call or write and begin communicating with the company, if you feel pressured, run. If you get a feeling that you're not being taken seriously, or that you are not being told the entire story, begin seeking someone else that you can communicate with. The relationship you have with your patent attorney and your marketing partners is critical--it must be free of distrust and foster the free flow of information. Steven Thrasher ThrasherAssociates, LLC, Richardson, TX 75080 (972) 918-9312, Email: Steve4laws@aol.com Reprinted with permission from the Newsletter of the United InventorsAssociation Www.uiausa.org United InventorsAssociation PO Box 23447 Rochester, NY 14692 Page 9 National / International Upcoming Events ( Submitted by Robert Aiken ) January 11 - 14, 2006... International Builders' Show, Orlando, Florida. Orange County Convention Center, 9800 International Drive, Orlando, FL The largest annual light construction show in the world-over a million-and-a-half square feet of the latest and most advanced building products and services ever assembled. Hands-on demonstrations and working models in over 300 building industry categories at the NationalAssociation of Home Builders' annual convention. www.buildersshow.com (800) 368-5242, ext. 8111 January 17- 18, 2006... Northern Plains Inventors Congress / Marketplace for Entrepreneurs Fargo Dome, Fargo, North Dakota Organized by U.S. Senator Kent Conrad. All inventors, entrepreneurs, businesses and service providers are invited to attend this annual event that attracts individuals from across the United States. The NPIC provides inventors and entrepreneurs with the information necessary to effectively commercialize new ideas, and also encourages innovation and economic development in the United States by exchanging ideas between inventors, entrepreneurs and professionals. www.ndinventors.com January 29 - 31, 2006... ERAMid-Winter Conference & Trade EXPO, Miami Beach, Florida. Electronic Retailing Association. Meet with the most influential players in the DR industry! Over 630 attendees and 39exhibitors establishing valuable contacts and promising leads. www.retailing.org/new_site/default.asp firstname.lastname@example.org February 4 - 5, 2006... Orlando Gift Show, Orlando, Florida. Orange County Convention Center, 9800 International Drive, Orlando, FL General giftware, home and garden accents, gourmet gifts, party and paper goods, tabletop, holiday/seasonal, collectibles, souvenir/resort merchandise, stationery, bed, bath and linen and more. Educational seminars included. www.urban-expo.com/Content/395.htm (678) 285-3976 February 9-12, 2006... Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show, Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV The worldwide annual gathering that unites manufacturer, retailer and all other industry stakeholders to trade, source and learn about the latest products, innovations and trends in the shooting sports industry. http://www.shotshow.org (888) 334-8720 February 10 - 12, 2006... Super Pet Expo, Edison, New Jersey. NJ Convention & Exposition Center, Edison, NJ www.superpetexpo.com/shows/edison (301) 564-4050 info@SuperPetExpo.com March 18 - 19, 2006... Midwest Farm and Ranch Expo, St. Charles Missouri. Compact agricultural equipment, tractor attachments, lawn/garden, livestock, utility construction, ranch and related products. www.mvea.com/allequipexpo (800) 430-6334 email@example.com March 23 - 25, 2006... 10th Annual Meeting, National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance, Portland, Oregon. Marriott Portland Downtown, Portland, OR An innovative, three-day format featuring structured and informal networking opportunities, new half-day interest tracks, the annual March Madness for the Mind E-Team exhibition at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and a gala 10th anniversary celebration! Non-NCIIAmembers: $585 www.nciia.org (413) 587-2172 June 9 - 11, 2006... Minnesota Inventors Congress, Redwood Falls, Minnesota. RedwoodArea Community Center, Redwood Falls MN Exhibit your new product idea or invention; consult with the nation's leading experts; special Educational Seminars for inventors; 6000+ anticipated spectators, prospects, & buyers; get helpful tips and enjoy fellowship with inventors; meet successful independent inventors of America! The Minnesota Inventors Congress is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization dedicated to the advancement of inventors and their ideas since 1958. www.inventhelper.org (507) 637.2344 firstname.lastname@example.org Page 10 Ask the Experts QUESTION: If I have to deal with a manufacturer from overseas, is it ok to deal over the internet or do I need someone as a go between? ANSWERS: Don Kelly: Before you lose your shirt, you must find someone who knows the ropes, a consultant or professional representative experienced in connecting with manufacturers. Ask for references and check those references carefully. Jeff Dobkin: It's tough dealing overseas. It's tough to get references - but that's the only way to build up a trust. Ask for 4 or 5 references they've done business with in the US. Then CALL the references. If they can't supply you with that many or they don't check out, don't use them. If they all check out - it can be worth the savings. Edie Tolchin: Regarding dealing with an overseas manufacturer, whether by internet, phone or fax, I would like to pose the following questions: 1) Are you at all knowledgeable about international trade and the various shipping terms involved in negotiating the purchase of your product? Examples of shipping terms are "FOB China," and "CIF New York," and they indicate exactly when the importer takes possession of the order, who is paying for the ocean or air freight charges, insurance, etc., as well as who (the supplier or the importer) is responsible for clearing the shipment through Customs, local delivery from the port to your inland destination, and so on. Is your purchase order contract drawn up with all terms clearly outlined, so that the supplier cannot say, at a later date, "you never mentioned that!" 2) Are you familiar with any US government regulations that may affect the import of your product into the USA? Such agencies would be the Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov/), the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov/ ), US Customs and Border Protection (http://www.cbp.gov/), and the Food & Drug Administration (http://www.fda.gov/)? There are many different standards and regulations involving imported products that might not apply for products made in the USA. You will also need to know if your product will be properly (legally) labeled, and if the cartons (if applicable) are properly marked. 3) Is the prospective manufacturer willing to work with an independent safety/testing lab to make sure your product complies with all of the government regulations / safety issues required, as indicated above in #2? 4)Are you in a position to determine if the prospective manufacturer follows a Code of Conduct regarding child labor standards, ethical business practices, and health and safety conditions for their factory workers? 5) Do you know, in advance of shipment, approximately how much in import duties (percentage of unit cost - where applicable) you will be paying for your product? 6) Do you know what international shipping documentation will be required for your order to clear through US Customs? 7) Have you received proper counter-samples of your product? How is the communication with the prospect supplier? Do they have a good command of the English language and do they reply promptly to your e-mails? 8) Have you checked their references from other importers who have bought from them? Have they told you of any name brands of other products they make that are sold in the USA? 9) What type of financial arrangements will you be making with the supplier? Wire transfer or Letter of Credit? (Never pay cash in advance). If you can answer all, or at least most of these questions, then you can handle the project on your own. If not, I would strongly advise working with a reputable import consultant to help you through your first navigation of the "international trade maze." (Continued on Page 12) Page 11 (Continued from Page 11) Ed Tutle: It is o.k. to open discussions but be careful regarding enabling information which may compromise your patent(s). Also I suggest you work with a bank that has worked with export/import matters in the country you may be dealing. Also work with a local university which may have a Business Development Office, and connections to the Commerce Dept (US) re: export of information. If you have a possibly patentable utility invention I suggest you contact a patent attorney/agent who does overseas patents. Pamela Riddle Bird: In working with inventors, as well as manufacturing companies on an international basis, I would visit the manufacturing company in person that you are considering signing a contract with. The costs for international airfare, if booked in advance, are not as expensive as you may think. I would also hire an agent to work with the company and check the products/inventions before shipping the product to make sure they are the quality and standards that you ordered. This is standard in the industry. In most situations, you pay the manufacturing company before the merchandise leaves the respective country--before it arrives in the US. To review the Non UIAMembers' Question of the Week go to our website at: http://www.uiausa.org/Services/AskExperts/WeeklyQuestions.htm Reprinted with permission from the Newsletter of the United Inventors Association. Www.uiausa.org . . . CES Show (Continued from Page 2) The second location was at the Sands Convention Center and it housed some of the newest emerging technology from smaller start-up companies. A lot of our fellow inventors were here looking for that one big break to become a success. The smallest booth, about six feet square, cost about $5,000 and had to be purchased well in advance of the show. Many of them will go home disappointed, although richer for the experience. Rather than sitting in a booth, I brought my innovations with me to walk the halls and showed them to everyone that I felt might be interested (and some who were clearly not). I received plenty of positive feedback and perhaps some good leads; enough to propel my efforts for yet another year. In addition to all of the displays and booths, there was room after room providing educational lectures about all kinds of technology. I attended one on disruptive technology, how the little guy can enter the marketplace and knock the bigger players on their ear. I felt that I was definitely in the right place! I never made it to the third location at Alexis Park where all of the really high end audio was on display. There were only four days to try to do it all, so one has to pick and choose what to see. It was like trying to hit all of the Disney theme parks in one extended weekend. You might get to see all the rides, but you could never get to try half of them! If you haven’t been to a trade show, you are missing the biggest opportunity you could ask for. Find one in your field of innovation and make plans to be there! Wayne Rasanen VP TBIC Page 12 GET THE LATEST Have you Expired ??? NEWS AND UPDATES Just joking, but it may be a more appropriate question than you think! There might be a good chance that your You can now get the latest TBIC news TBIC membership has expired without and updates from a new website that has you realizing it. been started: Never fear! We have made things rather http://www.tbicnews.blogspot.com simple for you to know, however. If you received your newsletter by mail, look at The website will keep members advised your mailing label on the back of this of any schedule changes, meeting newsletter and you will see an expiration information, speakers scheduled, date printed clearly above your name. classes, trade shows, etc. It is easy to find This date reflects the end of your six- and will also allow you to click on a link month or annual enrollment, whichever to go to the TBIC website and other the case may be. This makes it pretty important links. simple to keep up with your next renewal date. It will be easy to access it as often as you Expires: 01/15/2006 like. Reminders of the URL (web John Q. Public 123 Main Street address) will be given in several ways: Apt. 100 • When broadcast emails are sent out, the Anytown FL 12345 link to this update site will be included. • You can include it in your “Favorites” Pay close attention and if, for some reason, folder in your internet browser to make the expiration date shown is incorrect, it easy to go back to again and again. please notify us at email@example.com and we • The newsletter will contain many will look back in the treasurer’s records to banners that will remind you. verify it. Thank you. The site has been set up to not only inform you of the latest news, but will also have an archive of older news articles. If you missed something when it was first published you can read it from the Stop the Presses! archives. ... or the presses have stopped and from them come the brand new TBIC brochures. We have printed 2000 new brochures and would like to ask each of Any suggestions for this news service you to take a few with you and post them at your would be greatly appreciated. Send them local library, community center, apartment by email to firstname.lastname@example.org . billboard or simply hand one to someone you know with an inventive streak (or a TV broadcast) who should know about TBIC. For too long we have operated below the radar and it is time to make sure that everyone knows the Tampa Bay Inventor's GET LATE-BREAKING TBIC NEWS Council is right here in Tampa Bay! Please do your part to help grow our community and expand the www.tbicnews.blogspot.com networking opportunities for all of us. Stay Informed – See what’s new Page 13 WEBSITES (Links) & PHONE NUMBERS Brief descriptions in parentheses U.S. Government U.S. Gov’t. General Information Site www.FirstGov.gov U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (800) 786-9199 www.uspto.gov U.S.P.T.O. Kids’ Page www.uspto.gov/go/kids FL Patent Depository Library; Tampa (813) 974-2726 www.lib.usf.edu/virtual/gov/patent SATOP-Space Alliance Tech (NASA helps inventors; free) www.spacetechsoluttons.com SBIR/STTR (gov’t. wants inventions) www.acq.osd.mil/sadbu/sbir Small Business Administration (800) 827-5722 www.sba.gov State Government Florida Department of Revenue www.state.fl.us/dor New Business Start Up www.sunbiz.org USF Technology Incubator (free help to inventors; Tampa) www.incubator.usf.edu For Inventors Edison Inventors Ass’n. (inventor’s club, Ft. Myers) www.edisoninventors.org Edison Inventors Youth Programs www.edison-science-inventors-fairs.org World Intellectual Property Organization www.wipo.org National Inventor Fraud Center www.inventorfraud.com United Inventors Ass’n. (large nat’l. org.) www.uiausa.com Inventors Digest (magazine) www.inventorsdigest.com Patent Café (inventor’s issues) www.patentcate.com From Patent to Profit (Bob DeMatteis; books, lessons, advice) www.frompatenttoprofit.com The Basics of Patenting & Innovating www.inventors.about.com/od/firststeps/ Ask The Inventors www.asktheinventors.com That's An Idea (inventor’s directory) www.ThatsAnldea.com Inventions.com (inventor’s directory) www.inventions.com Invention University www.inventionuniversity.com InventNet - Inventor’s Network www.inventnet.com MIT-Lemelson Inventors Site www.mit.edu/invent Invention Development www.inventorehelper.com Innovation TRIZ (problem solving method) www.innovation-triz.com ASIT (inventor's problem solving method) www.start2think.com KeyWord Patent Search (workbook) www.keypatent.net Intergraph (“SmartSketch Invent” CAD software) www.intergraph.com/smartsketch/invent CAD Std (very cheap CAD software) www.cadstd.com Att’y. Referral Service www,AttorneyReferralOnLine.com Contingency Lawyer Listing www.patent-dispute.com Ed Dutkiewicz (reg. patent att’y.; Dunedin) www.colitz.com David Ellis (patent att’y.; Largo) http://publish.pdesigner.com/davidrellis/index.jsp Dave Kiewit (reg. patent agent; St. Pete) www.patent-faq.com Smith & Hopen (reg. patent att'y.; Clearwater) www.baypatents.com FL Inventors Network - John Blue (Tampa) www.finjb.com Product Design, Prototyping, Manufacturing ICTT (Paul Simmons; Largo) www.icttinc.com Manufacturers Information Network www.mfginfo.com Machine Design (rapid design & prototyping info.) www.machinedesign.com Inventioneering (product design, prototyping; Clearwater) www.inventioneering.org eMachineShop (product design, prototyping, free CAD) www.emachineshop.com Mydea Technologies (product design, prototyping; Orlando) www.mydeatechnologies.com Trade Show Hosts Invention Connection www.inventionconnection.com Trade Show Nat’l. Network www.tsnn.com Invent Now America (USPTO contests; nonprofit org.) www.inventnowamerica.com ERA Invention Showcase (Electronic Retailers Ass’n.) www.americaninventiveness.org Business Data & Information SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) www.score.org Small Business Development Center (USA) www.asbdc-us.org Entrepreneurial Education www.entre-ed.org Information Tabulations www.census.com World's Market Research www.worldopinion.com Thomas Registry www.thomasregister.com Industry Analysis http://research.thomsonib.com/ Marketing Services Innovative Product Technologies (Pam Riddle-Bird; Gainesville) www.inventone.com Package Management Group, Inc. (pkg. & mktg; Tampa) www.pmg-packaging.com Big Idea Group www.BigldeaGroup.net Market Launchers www.marketlaunchers.com Inventor’s Mall 123 www.InventorsMall123.com Idea Village www.ideavillage.com SmartInventions.com www.smart-inventions.com Ideas Happen (contests; age 18 - 29) www.ideashappen.msn.com/Pitch/ Parts, Supplies, Materials Don’s Salvage Yard (used stuff; Clearwater) www.donssalvage.com Skycraft Electronic Parts (new parts, Orlando) www.skycraftsurplus.com American Science & Surplus (mech. & elec.) www.sciplus.com W. M. Berg, Inc. (small parts supplier) www.wmberg.com American Plastics Supply (supplier & mfr.; Clearwater) www.americanplasticsupply.com Page 14 DUES DESCRIPTIONS 2005-2006 A Student Member at the $25.00 rate must be an active student. They may attend meetings OFFICERS AND and receive the Newsletter. BOARD OF DIRECTORS A Sustaining Member ($65.00/6 mos. $125.00/yr.) enjoys the benefit of attending meetings, seminars, socializing and Elizabeth Selm (President) networking with the other members, receiving email@example.com the Newsletter and participating as a reviewer in our Focus Groups. They are allowed to present their protected product to all of the Wayne Rasanen (Vice-President) various companies that come to TBIC to find firstname.lastname@example.org new products for the market such as infomercial and catalog companies. Sustaining members are allowed to utilize our Kirk Collins (Treasurer) woodworking and machine shops for email@example.com prototyping here at the TBIC headquarters. Members usually find other members with the prototyping knowledge that they need, and John Blue pay that member for their time and for firstname.lastname@example.org prototyping materials used. Sustaining members also may ask to have a free Focus Group done on their product, be allowed to John Korkos display their product in our designated display email@example.com areas and Annual members receive a free Science Notebook, (valued at $15.00) to log progress on their invention. Bruce Elliott firstname.lastname@example.org Corporate Membership of $250.00 will allow your corporation to elect up to 3 Corporate members to sit in on meetings as Frank Pugni well as all of the above. Also this membership email@example.com will allow said corporation to have access to new products before they are introduced to the open market. Bob Richardson Please Respect the Other Members At a recent Board meeting, several members said they have received complaints about talking in the back of the meeting room while Founder: Ron E. Smith the meeting is going on. Some are hard of hearing, some are distracted. While we acknowledge that networking is vital for all of Members are invited to write letters for us, we ask in the future that you try and do inclusion in the newsletter. before or after the meetings. Paul Simmons has also offered the use of the employee snack Email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax to 727-547-5490 or mail to TBIC at our office room in the garage area if you need to talk address. during the meeting. Availability is on a first Letters should be brief, to the point, and be come, first serve basis. Similar courtesy would accompanied by member name, email address . be appreciated by turning off your cell phone or and phone number. Letters can be edited for putting it on silent answer during the meeting. clarity, taste and length. Letters will be printed !-- gm as room permits. Page 15 ACTIVITIES CALENDAR Monthly Meetings Jan. 11, 2005 ....7:00 pm Jan. 25, 2005 ....7:00 pm Next Monthly Meetings Feb. 8, 2005 .... 7:00 pm Feb. 22, 2005 .... 7:00 pm Web Site Info: www.tbic.us Visit our web site for information about current and past happenings. You can also download current and past newsletters in *.pdf format. You will need to have Adobe Acrobat Ì TAMPA BAY INVENTORS COUNCIL yo n Reader on your computer. If you ck tio LARGO FL 33777-1622 ur to ex ere GET LATE-BREAKING TBIC NEWS he pira www.tbicnews.blogspot.com don't already have it, go to ure hip d h Stay Informed – See what’s new www.adobe.com/products/ e s bers foun c acrobat/readstep2.html B m e me dat to download this free document viewer. ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED 10750-A Endeavour Way • Just A Note endorsed by the T.B.I.C. and may not this newsletter are not necessarily Information and articles printed in We would like to remind our members that our Board be applicable to everyone. meetings are open to you if you would like to sit in on them. We usually meet at 6:00 on the first SM meeting date each month . SM Need to Reach TBIC ? Newsletter Staff Executive Editor . . . . George Mouzakis The Tampa Bay Inventors' Council Office: Contributing Editor. . . . . . Robert Aiken (TBIC) is a corporation as defined in Phone: 727-548-5083 Publisher . . . . . . . . Gary M. Simmons Chapter 617, Florida Statutes, as not- for-profit. The corporation is Toll-Free: 866-787-8242 To submit articles, send emails to: organized exclusively for charitable, email@example.com or or firstname.lastname@example.org educational and scientific purposes. The TBIC is a 501(C)(3) charitable Call 727-251-4056 corporation, which allows the receiving Articles and other items must be George Mouzakis received by the first Tuesday of the of tax deductible contributions of goods email@example.com odd months. and services. There are over 150 active members willing to share their expertise and experiences with fellow inventors.
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