Live from the Housewares Show

March 17, 2014, International Housewares Show Chicago - Over 2,000 exhibitors and 60,000+ attendees have come together to see new and old product offerings at the International Housewares Show now taking place at McCormick Place. Dan Fulford and I have been walking the show and making presentations of invention ideas accepted by Invention City. It's never good to count chickens before they hatch or royalties before the check clears, but it looks like at least two licensing deals with strong housewares retailers will come out of this show. We'll see what happens in the weeks to come.

Being at this show has reminded me once again how valuable it is to walk these shows and meet people. Every new product has an industry and every industry has a trade show. As an inventor you need to be an expert on your product and going to a trade show for your product category is an important part of your education. Other than travel, attending most trade shows isn't expensive if you register in advance.

On the other hand, exhibiting at a trade show can be expensive in more ways than one. This show, like the Hardware Show and other shows has a dedicated section for inventors. Exhibiting as an inventor at shows such as this one can run between $500 to $2000 depending on the show, just for the booth pace. Add the cost of presentation materials, various set up fees and so on and the cost can easily rise by another $1-$2,000. Shows provide a great opportunity to put your invention in front of a lot of potential licensees at one time. If you have a hot invention idea you'll glow from the words of praise you hear, your ego being amply stoked. But that may not put any money in your pocket. Exhibiting an early stage product idea at a major trade show provides an opportunity for corporate design teams to scout ideas and find "inspiration." Think of a trade show as Knock-Off Central. Whatever patent protection you think you have, the odds are extremely high that it's not as good as you think it is.

There are different thoughts on the best way to license a product. Some people believe that you should interest a lot of people and try to get multiple bids. Dan and I believe the opposite. From experience we've found that the best way to get a good licensing deal and avoid being knocked off is to choose a good prospect and make a quiet and private presentation to a decision maker. That's what we've been doing. It works well. You can learn more about my thoughts on licensing in Inventing 102.

One last thing. This is the first time I've had a chance to watch Dan do licensing presentations. He is simply amazing. Invention City is very lucky to have him and so is every inventor he works with.

-Mike Marks

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