Finalizing a licensing agreement is an accomplishment. By all means, go out and celebrate. You deserve it. Negotiations often derail, but you saw things through to the end. But wait! Don't think that you can walk away just yet. It's possible there are obstacles still to come. You need to stay abreast of them.

One of my students recently received some disappointing news. After she signed a deal earlier this year, her licensee took her idea to China to be manufactured. But problems arose during the development process. Namely, the company couldn't figure out how to make her idea at the price point required of products in that category. She'd been waiting nearly six months when she was informed the project wouldn't be moving forward. Manufacturing was too difficult, she was told. Momentum had been lost. She never had an opportunity to try to solve the issues plaguing the process. It was too late.

If you stick to inventing simple ideas, there's a good chance manufacturing will be easy. Will there be road bumps? Yes, of course. There are always starts and stops when it comes manufacturing. So, it's a good idea to keep your eye on how the process is unfolding.

To that end, you should:

1. Stay as close as you. Some companies will welcome you. Some will not. Focus on being as helpful as you can. Ask about their process and to be copied on emails. If you can, get to know the design team. But don't push. If you do, you run the risk of alienating yourself.

2. Listen before offering to contribute. This is important. You need to let your licensee do its job. Don't get in the way. If you're polite and courteous, your opinion is much more likely to be valued.

3. Ask to see samples. I like to know what's going on. If I'm in the loop, I might have the opportunity to solve a problem. I also end up learning a lot along the way. If you decide to try to license the same idea to another company, the information you gather during this stage could be invaluable. Really, know-how is always useful. We all make mistakes the first time around. If you understand manufacturing, you'll be able to file stronger intellectual property as well.

4. Consider visiting the facility in person. I've done it! What did I know about manufacturing? Not much. But I was so invested in my idea that I wanted to be there. I wanted to be sure. You'd be surprised. Even though you're not an expert, you might see something others have missed. And putting in some face-time could really be to your advantage.

5. Build relationships. If you're enjoyable to work with and keep calm, your team will be less likely to give up. Never forget that it's possible to motivate people to work harder to solve something. Hang out. Go to lunch. Get a little personal. For you, it is, isn't it?

At the end of the day, if your idea can't be made, you won't receive any royalties. So please, stay close to the process. Don't kick up your heels just yet.

Published on: Oct 16, 2015
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