Talus Inventor Guidelines
We design many of our own products, and know the time, struggle, and effort needed to make products right. We occasionally work with outside inventors and designers.
What are we looking for?
We're looking for well-designed products that will sell through our existing stores to many consumers. If your item doesn’t fit into our Smooth Trip® or High Road® lines, it won’t be an item for us.
Finish is important, and how much time we have to spend on finish design affects our evaluation.
Did we mention? It must fit into stores we currently sell to.
What’s the price a consumer will pay? Production costs can be helpful, retail price is essential.
What is the competition? What performs the same function?
What makes yours better? What are your key selling points?
What’s the product and how does it work?
What do we do?
To take a product to market, we refine the design so it can be manufactured at reasonable cost, photograph, create packaging, advertise, create catalogs, motivate sales reps, sell, exhibit at trade shows, order, carry stock, ship, bill, and collect receivables. We also liquidate bad products as sadly they aren’t all hits.
How much intellectual property protection can we get on your design or invention?
Inventions can be protected by a design or utility patent. In some instances, trademark can protect the name of a product. Patents are expensive to obtain, far more expensive to enforce, and often offer limited protection. We prefer that you already have a patent.
Trademarks are usually developed from use over time and we won’t pay for a name.
Design patents protect the “ornamental design” and offer narrow protection.
Utility patents prevent others from making items that function similarly, but are difficult and expensive to get. Unless you already have one, it is unlikely we would invest the $10,000+ needed to obtain a utility patent as they often are so limited that they don’t offer meaningful protection.
If you think your product might be patentable, it would help to know what other patents exist in this area.
How much we’ll pay for your design or invention?
If the design is ready to produce, we will pay more. If we need to re-design the product, we’ll pay less.
If a strong patent exists, royalties typically range from 3-6% for simple mechanical items. If no utility patent exists and we have to pay for it, we need to account for the additional cost and risk.
If the design is ready to produce and no design patent exists we can split the costs. If the design is not reasonably complete, we treat the initial design as unpatentable because design patents are all about the final appearance.
If no patent is available, we would negotiate a declining capped royalty as explained below.
What if there is no protection?
Sometimes an inventor has a good product that can’t get meaningful patent protection. As soon as we take the product to market, it becomes “public knowledge.” At that point, every competitor - and even some stores we sell to - can and will copy the product without paying a penny.
It’s tough to pay royalties for an idea that everyone else gets for free. True, we get to be the first to market, but knock-offs can show up in as little as 3 months and easily 6-12 months. This limits the value. In these circumstances, we believe a declining capped royalty is fair. For instance 5% on the first $25,000 in sales, 4% on the next, and so on, with some negotiation on rates and when declines occur. This is not a bonanza – but it reflects the competitive marketplace we inhabit.