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General business information.

Telling people about your idea -
The annoying thing about some inventions is that to determine whether money can be
made from them you need to talk to lots of people and ask their opinions. Such
market research can destroy your right to a patent - especially if you need to explain
how it works. Be very careful not to spoil your chances of a patent by telling anyone -
even purely verbal disclosure can ruin your business at a later stage. Inevitably most
people do tell their most immediate family but it really is not recommended. How
certain can you be that your partner won't hate you in 10 years time? Get a
confidential disclosure agreement written up and always demand it gets signed first.

While you are at it, you should consider
registering a business. If nothing else it
adds to your professional appearance. You need a suitable business partner - a very
close family member if there isn't anyone obvious. Visit Companies House and get a
limited company or a limited liability partnership for £20.

Choosing your business partners. This is very difficult because inevitably chance
plays a very strong role in putting people together. Think critically about the people
you are considering going forward with. Everyone knows they should do due
diligence, but how many people actually do it well? Research them. Search the web
for anything they have been involved in. If they have told about their past exploits, did
they give you enough details for you to start snooping? If not, why not? The sad fact
is that in so many cases, decent people start out with good intentions and find later
that they do not share the same aspirations for the project as their business partner,
or that their business partner does not have the skills that they were assumed to
have. If your team is not a solid platform for the project then it will very likely fail.

When agreeing
licencing deals always look for an eventuality in which the other
side won't have to give you much or anything. This is probably what the other side are
rubbing their hands in glee about. For example - if you agree an exclusive licence
without a minimum royalty and they decide not to sell it - then they won't have to give
you a penny but they get to prevent you or their competition from using the invention
for free!

Invention promotion companies - Please be really careful because there are lots
of cowboy companies out there. Demand to meet clients who signed up three years
previously and ask them what they got for their money. It is too easy for the company
to organise a rubbish market survey, appraise your invention (always with positive
results) and promise to promote you to their contacts. With lots of money spent you
may well end up with no licencing deal.

Warning: Nothing in this document constitutes legal advice. Talk to a business advisor
and an intellectual property advisor in your country before taking any action or
making any decisions.

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