T Nation

Question for The Business Minded


#1

The way I understand it if you invent a product you can patent it and then sell it yourself or license out. If however you had an idea for a food product how would you go about licensing it? If the product is a spice mix it can not really be patented since anyone can reproduce it using the same ingredients (italian mixes same ingredients different brands) so, if you go to a market or food manufacturer what's to stop them from hearing you out rejecting the idea and then doing it themselves?


#2

You have to have it defined as intellectual property. I'm not entirely sure how you go about doing this. Probably having it written down, dated, and witnessed by multiple people would be a good start.


#3

You could try copy writing, or maybe creating a strictly controlled process by which you arrive at the end product for a utility patent.

You better be damn confident in that product though, cuz patents and what not are pretty darn expensive.


#4

I wouldn't spend a cent of your money on patents, trademarks or copyrights. Spend your money on perfecting the product, coming up with good packaging, creating a brand around it, and then selling it to supermarkets. Supermarkets are in the business of selling goods, not creating them. I understand that there are generic, easily replicable forms of ketchup and other commodity goods. The brand is what separates real Pop Tarts from Kroger/Ralphs/generic Pop Tarts. Develop the product, create a brand around it, and sell it. We're not talking pharmaceuticals here that could potentially be worth millions if not billions of dollars; we're talking about a spice mix.

I find it odd that entrepreneurs could think of spending so much of their start up capital on patenting an unproven product or service. Save that for complex scientific and technological discoveries.

Start making shit happen. Learn your lessons along the way. But don't waste the money you do have and prevent yourself from getting anywhere before you even begin the process. Put the blinders on and go.


#5

Nothing. I, however, have never ran into this problem myself. Usually if you tell people your idea and they think it is good, they will usually want to help you if they can. And, I usually only talk to businesses that I know myself or through someone else.


#6

Well said.

Unless you have something truly unique (and potentially worth millions) then most people will be way too lazy to steal your formula anyway.


#7

well you can patent a food product...

it just has to fit the criteria of a food item that can be patented...

http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/uspc426/defs426.htm

liek for example, if you found a method to make garlic not smell like garlic..that would be patentable most likely...

also there are trade secrets...coca cola doesn't list the spices it uses in coke...it lists them as natural flavors on the ingredient list...so, you don't have to reveal everything you do...


#8

Well if it possible to patent you can always get a provisional patent. They are cheap and give 12 months.


#9

Good post.


#10

Typically, companies will file a provisional patent (I think it's like $99, lasts 1 year) and let the USPTO markup all the things wrong with the patent, e.g. what's missing, and then use that as a guideline for filing the true patent. It's an abuse of the system for sure, but common practice.

And that's all the business advice you get for today, you cheap motherfucker, you.

But stop worrying about this shit. It's hard enough to get customers (in B2C space, anyway) to notice your product.


#11

Thanks for the responses guys. Do not know if it changes anything but, would it make a difference if the application for said product is unique? So, the ingredients are not really a secret/unique.

Something like: http://www.wisconsinmade.com/gift-ideas/Popcorn-Seasoning-6-Pack-4052.aspx


#12

x3. Selling consumer products in crowded markets is about brand. Even if you somehow came up with the perfect spice mix, your potential customer in the super market pretty much only has the label to go by. Even if no one had your exact blend of spices, how would the buyer know?

You could also consider starting a food blog or cooking channel on Youtube and go over recipes, review foods, and plug your spice mix throughout the content and sell it directly. Just look at the way a successful company like Biotest has marketed their supplements and become a big player in a painfully crowded supp market. They started with staples (whey) and promoted said product via great, free articles that lots of people like to read.


#13


Where's AC when you need him?