Updated September 6, 2021:

Have you thought, “I wonder how to sell my invention idea to a company to produce it?” You are not alone, as thousands of inventors come up with great ideas every day, only to find themselves unable to manufacture it themselves. However, you can opt to sell your idea in several different ways and still make a great profit without having to do the legwork of producing it yourself.

I Have an Idea for an Invention: What to Do

You can do some online research to look at other companies in your invention’s industry. Once you have made a list of the companies you would like to sell your idea to, take the time to research every company completely. Some businesses will have a section on their websites to help you submit your idea. While many companies want new invention ideas, some will be resistant to inventors, as they don’t have the resources or time to put into new products.

If you happen to find a manufacturer that is interested in your invention, there are usually two options. You can sell your invention idea, or you can outright sell the invention itself for one large lump sum as compensation for your idea.

The second option is to enter a licensing agreement. You would collect royalties each time your product is sold. If you choose this option, you need to carefully inspect the offer to ensure that are no clauses that keep the company from holding onto the invention for the length of the contract, which allows you to leave the contract if they make little to no effort to manufacture and sell the product.

It is a game changer to hire a patent attorney for a step by step guide on how to patent an idea, licensing, and oversee the whole patent application in order to protect your company and invention from future patent prosecution.

Steps to Selling Your Idea

There are several steps involved if you want to sell your idea. Before you approach a company, there are some things you need to be fully aware of:

  1. Research your market. You will need to obtain as much feedback as you can on your idea. You can do this through focus groups or use other methods. You also need to research and obtain information about other products that are similar to yours.
  2. Make sure the legalities are on the up and up. Make every effort to if your invention can be patented or manufactured without infringing on the right of other patents already on file. You can do a preliminary patent search to get you started.
  3. Research your production options. Take the time to learn about the process of production, especially if you have some specialized materials or techniques that have to be incorporated into your invention.
  4. Once you have completed these steps, you will then need to show it to those who may want to license your invention. You should also have a 3-D prototype of your invention to show them, as well as a sell sheet including all of this information. A sell-sheet needs to be a one to two-page document that tells the potential licensee:
    1. The challenge or problem that the invention meets
    2. The features and benefits of the product
    3. The market you want to reach
    4. The legal status you currently have, such as patent-pending, trademark, and the like.
  5. You need to also write an introductory letter to go along with your sell sheet. This will introduce who you are, tell the licensee why you are making contact, and set up a time to meet for a follow-up.
  6. You will need to find out the best and most appropriate contacts for your new opportunity. You can also identify potential manufacturers by researching the trade association that is closest to the industry in which your product will fall into. Take a look at the member lists on the website.
  7. Do some research for companies in particular industries. After you have a list of about 50 companies, make a decision on which you will prioritize based on how well they would fit with your invention or your product.

How to Patent Your Ideas?

Inventors often sell their product ideas to bigger companies, however some decide to go through the patent process in order to get a more sustainable income revenue in the long term. For someone who has no idea about how the patent process works, it is better to seek legal advice than potentially expose yourself to lawsuits that might cost thousands of dollars. 
We suggest consulting with a licensed attorney as their services inherently implies privacy under the attorney client relationship. On the other hand, if you were to discuss your invention ideas with partners, other people, or someone who is not working as an attorney on your behalf, they would be able to steal your inventions unless an NDA was signed and you would have no legal standing in court.

If you need help with selling your invention idea, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.