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How to handle a new tool that I designed and had made


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18 replies to this topic

#1 davebugs

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 10:35 PM

Part Subaru and part VW and wanted the ability to edit so I posted it here. (I hope we can edit here).

I created some tools for doing rear axle busing on VW MarkIV's. The mechaincs at the local dealer LOVED them. I'm getting more made.

The question is the set will probably sell for 200 or less. Anyone here ever developed a tool before. Or more accurately bother producing, or patenting, or partnering (with Lisle for instance), that kinda stuff?

I will probably have Subaru Harmonic balancer tools for sale soon as well. Yea - I know folks use workarounds. I won't on something this major. I have 2 sets now with handles as part of the tool(lets say 2.2's and the other for 2.5's). He's making me some with a slot for a brealer bar so shipping would be less(no handle).

No - designing and/or selling tools isn't my business. But I'm getting them made for my own use so the development is already done. I'm shooting for about 40 bucks on the harmonic balancer tool but I won't know until he's done. That would be about 1/3 of the Subaru tool. And more importantly potentially same future issues from not getting the crank bolt tight. And at an affordable price so folks can afford to do things right.

Any thoughts welcomed.

#2 Turbone

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 10:41 PM

What I would like to see available is the cam holder tool and a flywheel holder tool.

#3 davebugs

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 10:47 PM

I had a friend borrow some cam sprockets to make the cam holder tool (I assume that's what you mean for installing the timing belt on a DOHC when the driver side in under load?). But he got laid off before he could use the waterjet to create the tool.

The flywheel lock. I see that as limited use(manual tranny's only) and unnecessary if you have the harmonic balancer tool. Am I missing something or mis-understanding you(either is defninately possible)?

#4 Turbone

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 12:09 AM

I had a friend borrow some cam sprockets to make the cam holder tool (I assume that's what you mean for installing the timing belt on a DOHC when the driver side in under load?). But he got laid off before he could use the waterjet to create the tool.

The flywheel lock. I see that as limited use(manual tranny's only) and unnecessary if you have the harmonic balancer tool. Am I missing something or mis-understanding you(either is defninately possible)?


Right on both.
The cam tool comes in handy for when you need to loosen/tighten the bolts on the sprocket.
The flywheel lock is for when you need to tighten the crank bolt.

#5 lostinthe202

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 05:46 AM

If you've still got the CAD files for the sprocket holder, I can burn one out on our Laser cutter, or if it's made from thicker then 1/4" steel, the EDM machine we purchased last week :banana: However, I go for training on the EDM in Boston in the last week of August, so you'll have to wait 'till I get back 'cause as of right now, nobody in the building knows how to run it!

From what I understand, trying to sell any idea to a large company is a pain. Even if you hold a patent, there's nothing keeping them from taking your idea, changing it slightly then selling it as their own product. You can take the company to court, but it's sure to have more money then you to spend on lawyers.

An alternative might be to sell them online like on feebay or something. Perhaps to local shops too?

I'm curious about the crank holder. I've made a couple that didn't hold up too well. They were pretty prehistoric, one was a basically a 1/4" plate with the four hole pattern drilled into it and a large hole in the center for the socket, then four pieces of 1/4 or 5/16 rod (I forget which ) welded into place and finally a 2' piece of pipe welded on for a handle. It worked but the pins bent on the first use trying to get up to 130 ft/lbs or whatever the number is.

I tried another of the same basic design using stainless pins, but they weren't any better, too much hysteresis on the pins since they too long. I figured something that had a jog for the handle so that the works could fit down inside the pulley so the pins could be short.

I have an idea for a third version but my timing belt job is another 15k off and I can't find the hole spacing info so it'll have to wait a few months.

Maybe I can just buy yours for $40. While I'm sure I can make one that works, my time is definitely worth more then $40!

Will-

#6 davebugs

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 06:51 AM

Funny. The first 2.2 version I had issues with pins bending. Had a better one made for 2.5's. Now having a 2.2 and 2.5 version made without handles. I told him I was torqueing to 180 lbs (as I often actuall do).

We'll see how they all work. I have the garage tied up with my VW bus, a 2.2 to pull on the trailer (parts or car for sale in appropriate sections here at USMB) and a 96 2.5 to do HG's or swap this 2.2 into. But it'll be a week or so.

What I would like to do is be able to make these, sell them for 40 bucks, and my friend whose shop is slow and myself make just a few bucks. He has machines idle at the present time. Time will tell if that's doable. I'm getting a few made anyways. I know I'd have gladly spent 50 bucks (with shipping I'm guessing) rather than over 100 for the Subaru tool or using some of the methods some of the inventive folks here have come up with.

I'll see if I can get the cam tool made if there is demand. I can probably actuall borrow the official Subaru tool and I can surely come up with more cam sprockets. I've just never needed to use one so that wasn't a source of "pain" for me.

I still see no reason for the flywheel lock if you have a tool for the harmoinc balancer. I mean I have a flywheel here, certainly have engine cases I'm just not seeing the real benefit - atleast not for what I'm usually doing (timing belt and front seal jobs. What other uses would it have?

#7 grossgary

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 10:02 AM

Meet with a patent attorney and see what you're options are. Patent it, start a company, then sell the company is the way to make cash. Otherwise it's hard for anyone to take you seriously as companies are strictly in for financial purposes.

I know someone that did exactly that. Was offered 20 million for the business last year and he declined, said he wants 50mil.:rolleyes::lol::confused:

If you're not in it for money, then find a shop to make a XYZ of them and sell them.

#8 Log1call

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 06:23 PM

Yeah, patents are a bit of a hoax. All anyone has to do is make a "significant", improvement/change and they are free to make and sell their updated version. The definition of significant is vauge and depends on the application but, a bend in the handle might be enough to sufice!

It's better to just perfect the design secretly, go into production as cheaply as possible and hope you sell enough to fund your next design/invention before the rouges start copying.

#9 ShawnW

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 09:57 PM

Lisle likes to buy tool designs. http://www.lislecorp.com/

#10 davebugs

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 10:15 PM

Lisle likes to buy tool designs. http://www.lislecorp.com/


I emailed them and got back a form letter. With an idea non-discolsure agreement which says some things I didn't care for.

Here is an attempt at the cut/paste:

The Idea Disclosure Agreement information you requested is attached for you to fill out and mail in or fax us the information. If you want to send in a working model along with the Idea Disclosure Agreement, this will aid in evaluating the idea. However, it is not absolutely necessary that we have this. A drawing, picture or sketch will usually be sufficient. If a model is sent, it will be returned after our evaluation.



Lisle Corporation has conducted an active idea submission program for over 35 years. We currently make regular royalty or award payments to over 120 individuals whose idea submissions were selected based on our evaluation.



In our evaluation process, we typically make prototype tools and solicit opinions from automotive mechanics. For this reason all submissions are non-confidential.



There are several things that we consider when evaluating a new tool idea. It should be related to the automotive or the heavy duty repair field and fit into our automotive specialty tool line. It should appeal to a mechanic because it makes a job faster, easier, safer or has an advantage over any similar tool on the market.



After we evaluate your tool, we will advise you regarding the outcome of our evaluation and may offer an Award or a Royalty Agreement that provides for payments based on a percentage of the net selling price received by the company for a period of ten (10) years or, if patents are involved, for the life of the patents. The offer is based on numerous factors, including but not limited to, date of submission, identification of the problem being solved, originality, status of patent protection and other factors. Also, depending upon the circumstances, we may work with you to obtain patent protection. The decision of Lisle Corporation with respect to the offer of an award or royalty is solely at the discretion of Lisle Corporation and is final.



We appreciate you contacting us and will look forward to receiving your submission.



Sincerely,

----------------------------------------------

What I didn't like is why have an idea disclosure agreement when they say in the 3rd paragraph that things submitted are "non-confidential".

And this statement at the end: "The decision of Lisle Corporation with respect to the offer of an award or royalty is solely at the discretion of Lisle Corporation and is final. "

A paranoid reading is - yea - send it in. We'll loan it out to other folks who may copy it. Or if we like it there is no negotiation on our offer.

I buy and use a lot of Lisle specialty tools. But it hardly sounds like they'd be a good partner to me. Am I missing something?

Give us your idea, if we don't steal it, we'll make you a one time offer. Doesn't give me the warm and fuzzies.

Tool is similar to bearing pullers but very specifically for MarkIV VW axle bushings. Literally cuts the job from 5.5 to about 2 hours. The 5.5 is using the factory tool (and assorted swear words). The 2.0 or so is using mine. Only takes 5 minutes max to install each new bushing. Axle doesn't get removed from the car, etc.

Market would be every VW dealer (who are obligated to buy the 900.00 VW set), and all independent VW shops, and folks like me that work on their cars.

Not a huge market, but I already developed the tool for myself. So that part is already done.

Just thought my friend with the machine shop could get some work out of it and I could perhaps make a few bucks. I just don't want to get ripped off. If it doesn't sell (or isn't worth the effort) I can handle that. Getting ripped off though would really piss me off!

#11 Indrid cold

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 08:14 AM

my .02 cents here:

The old saying: "Something is better then nothing." may apply here.

If you have the time and talent to mfg., sell, package and ship then you don't need the Lisle corp. to help you out... if you want to put it into someone elses hands and say "send me a check every 6 months" or what ever... then that can work but you are giving up some of the $... but, if you let the idea die on the vine or go in half heartedly then it doesn't matter as if it is a good idea it will probably get copied.

I am sure Lisle corp. isn't out to steal idea's. It sounds like a workable avenue for those who don't want to be bothered by the production, selling etc... stocking, re-working, mfg. selling stocking etc... they can't protect your idea anymore then you can as they have to put the tool into someones hands that can prove there is a market for it... they don't want bad publicity neither... so my guess is they are straight shooters regarding the use of submitted ideas.... they assume the risk and you get a check once in awhile... may not be a bad option.

If you believe you have the means to do the process and believe every V.W. mechanic will want one of these tools then look for investors by putting advertisements in the paper/automotive magazine (possibly V.W. type) looking for investors of a new automotive tools etc... they come in, sign non-disclosure's and give them the speal. There are people in this world that look for nitches like this to invest in. Mfg. a set number, 100 or 200 unites, with the investors and see what happens, sell them..... you will still be sharing the wealth so too speak... but you will have more control and active part of the sales. Many products started this way, assembly line at a home till picked up by a mfg. who bought the idea outright.

Nothing will prevent someone, somewhere from taking your idea, tweeking it and selling it. A patent would give you some protection but I have no prior experience in this field so that is all I better say.

Making a business based on that tool from the earlier post is an interesting idea....

On the bright side my Brother-in-law is a VW mechanic and is always looking for quicker ways of doing things... so yea.. he may be interested in what your offering....

My wife has produced 3 products from our home, one idea sold in 3 states for a bit and then faded, the other flopped and the 3rd idea was stolen and mass produced and the people made a fortune from my wife's inspiration... (some people are just sleezy and that is that)... we didn't see market potential on the last idea and fumbled with it half-heartedly and before we knew it they were on the market from an aquaintance of hers and truely there is nothing you can do on a easy to copy design, you snooze you loose .... so possibly, something is better then nothing by going through a tried and true company like Lisle or grab the reigns and tie into the right people and mfg. and sell your idea.

again, my .02 cents worth.

Good luck.

#12 grossgary

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 08:51 AM

What they wrote above is exactly what I would have expected. If it's at the discretion of submiters, they'd get thousands more submissions and get sued, which I can tell you they've been sued before.

If someone had a profitable idea it's unlikely to end up at Lisle anyway and if it was they would be willing rewrite or negotiate on different terms than their SOP they just sent you. They end up with mostly low-profit ideas which aren't worth their time (think of the people you run across that want a cheap car).

What you're getting with Lisle is MASSIVE exposure, most folks don't realize how valuable that is. How do you let millions of people know about your product? They are providing a service that most folks don't understand because they can't quantify it. And if it came down to "royalty's" they think the product is more valuable than their marketing. Lisle doesn't want to be in the business of arbitrating that.

You're really hosed unless you want to give the product away or somehow market it yourself.

A good patent attorney can do wonders to protect the idea.
Though in this case, with some existing items out there it may be tricky.

#13 davebugs

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:12 PM

Thanks for the thought folks.

I still haven't decided what to do.

I would have the capital, and ability to get it manufactured - those aren't the main issues. I'm semi-retired from computerizing manufacturers for over 25 years. Including a lot of machine shops - at one time a lot of steel was actually made here locally to Pittsburgh.


I'ts the marketing and stealing of the idea that are or concern to me. As you would imagine the item could easily be copied.

I'll also know more about cost next week. My friend is getting pricing on bar stock and tubing, etc. The first one he made from stuff he had left from other jobs. He's also gonna program the CNC rather than doing it manual like the first time. Other than that I may be looking for a source for a 12mm bolt 9.5 inches long overall - we used allthread on the first set and double nutted and welded them, the other end was tapped. I was just gonna try Fastenal and stuff for those. Anyone have any suggestions on where to buy these?

Again thanks for the thoughts.

#14 davebugs

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 10:39 AM

Harmonic balancer tool for 2.2 and early 2.5 is done.

I'll test it a little on engines here and hopefully post the pics I just took.

I should be able to have basically the same thing made for 2.5's hopefully for about the same price.

I'll be starting a thread somewhere about the new tool(s) for Subaru's.

The VW tool I'm having 5 more sets made, looking to source a 12mm about 9 1/2" bolt (rather then the current allthread and double nuts). Also buying the only real competitive tool to evaluate before I put a lot of reseources into this.

#15 baccaruda

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 11:32 AM

Good luck with your endeavor. It sounds exciting!
I would encourage you to look into patenting it but keep in mind that China is the land of the cheap knock-off. You WILL see "your" tool for sale on eBay and other places if you are successful; I imagine you could sell yours on eBay as well. I don't know if eBay would pull knockoffs from the USA site if you can prove infringement.
It would be neat to get exposure in Europe too; if you can find someone trustworthy to whom you can license it, you might produce them over there as well (didn't they invent VWs in Germany? :lol:) since shipping from the US would be expensive.

Patent infringement can be messy to deal with but you would have the advantage by holding the patent. At my last job, my boss was selling a piece of merchandise that appeared similar to a patented version, but the patented version was far less efficient to install and remove than our version, thanks to her ingenuity. He threatened to sue and after much correspondence, we scaled down our advertising for the product to keep it under the radar until his patent expires.
That's another issue - your patent will not last forever, but it will give you a headstart on making the most money from your idea.
I suggest that you get a patent lawyer who likes to work on his/her own VW and enjoys punking out copycats, and then you're golden!

#16 davebugs

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 11:46 AM

Patent infringement can be messy to deal with but you would have the advantage by holding the patent. At my last job, my boss was selling a piece of merchandise that appeared similar to a patented version, but the patented version was far less efficient to install and remove than our version, thanks to her ingenuity. He threatened to sue and after much correspondence, we scaled down our advertising for the product to keep it under the radar until his patent expires.
That's another issue - your patent will not last forever, but it will give you a headstart on making the most money from your idea.
I suggest that you get a patent lawyer who likes to work on his/her own VW and enjoys punking out copycats, and then you're golden!



Yea - finding someone like that will be EASY!!!

I had a brush with this stuff in the early 80's but was going the Copyright route and found out someone else was about 3 months ahead of me. It was for ordering your groceries online when PC's were basically in their infancy. And the real issue then was that liability insurance was killing businesses and this way you just needed warehouses with some employees to pull the orders. Then have the customer drive through or deliver them. The technology was the enabler to solve the business cost(insurance, fixtures, maintenance, etc) issues. In that case it was an idea (with very detailed specifics) but IIR you Copyright ideas and Patent gizmo's.


Sounding like 5k to Patent. It basically is a glorified hub/bearing puller looking gizmo so there are similar idea'd products.
Anyone could change a minor thing and get around the patent.

I invest some overseas. Just like Japan in the 80's China won't respect Patents until they have some of their own. They still file for virtually NO patents themselves (although they seem to scrounge other's Patent fileings and make knockoff products quickly). Therefore they won't hesitate to steal intellectual property, Patents, Copyrights, whatever.

#17 Qman

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 12:07 PM

The flywheel tool is for locking the flywheel in place when doing any engine work. It will hold the crank in place when doing timing belts. It will aid you in several other tasks as well. The main thing is to use it when doing in car services. Out of the car there are several different methods available.

#18 speaker

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 10:32 AM

My $0.02 -

I have several patents but the rights are held by the company I worked for. They are only as good as your willingness to defend them, i.e. how much money you wish to spend should you get copied. As stated, a patent is easily written around an existing one. Indeed, on one of mine I discovered several other & completely valid ways to do the exact same things.

What I realized during the process is that the writing of the patent & claims itself is only ~1/2 of the deal. The other ~1/2 is the role the patent attorney plays with the examiners to get the your item through their process. Time from submission to issuance on mine were from ~10 months to ~3 years and on one, weekly contact between the attorney to the examiner. All said & done, I don't have much enthusiasm for patents and believe if you get caught up in feeling you need one, you won't go forward.

In your situation I would do the following:

(1) Write up as comprehensive a description as possible detailing every feature, benefit, first use & application of it, etc. and include pictures & diagrams of it.

(2) Notarize every item of the above with an impartial witness.

(3) Seal it in a heavy 9x12 envelope and sign over the flap.

(4) Send it to yourself via registered mail, signature require and upon receipt, lock it away in your firebox.

You have basically documented and dated your idea at a fixed point in time by doing the above. It isn't a bulletproof way to assign IP (intellectual property) to yourself (like a patent) but it does carry some weight. I had asked my company patent attorney about ideas I had outside of work and how I could document them? The above method is what he told me and it does carry some weight should the origin of an idea ever come into dispute.

What you have done already is as powerful as the patent from a commercial standpoint. You have made working models of tools and received solid feedback that they are viable. Companies get started on much, much less. I'd be inclined to 'go for it' and start building your tools & selling them. The key to getting your cost of goods down (so you can make more profit) is to commit to higher volume production with your supplier(s). Find out where their price breaks are, 50, 100, 500, etc? Most companies won't require you to take the entire lot in one shot but will let you do stage releases as long as you take them all within some time frame from 90 day to a year.

The only thing you need to worry about in all this is not if your idea is patentable but if you've inadvertently infringed on someone else's. This is likely where Lisle is coming from and why their ND is written so they have all the cards. They will want to crawl through anything remotely related to your idea to be sure that it cannot be construed as a rip-off of another patent. They will be the ones in court with their deep pockets should someone, perhaps someone like you that hold the patent, see your tool set and decide that it was close enough to his own IP to warrant a suit.

Ain't getting a good idea out there for others to use grand?

:-\

#19 davebugs

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 11:09 AM

I appreciate the well though out response.

I am having tools made and selling them without all the hassle. Small scale 6-10 at a time.

There is no tool real close to this, existing Patents I don't know.

I had basically come to the conclusion Patenting wasn't worth the effort.

The "tool set" I'm currently selling for 200.00. Even if someone had one of these to copy and free machine time I still don't think it would be worth cranking out copies. They are costing me about 160-180 ea. So far all have been sold local (amazing how news like this spreads amongst tech's) but I hope to sell them for 200. Should leave me with a few bucks each and my friend will have some work for his shop.

A larger margin would be great as some payback for the development, trial and error, investment in material, hardware, and machining. But I think at this price point folks will be more likely to buy. This will lead to a much better experience for them performing the bushing replacement and I'll make a few bucks.

I didn't design the tool to sell it - just for my own use since nothing quality and affordable was available. Actually my return is pretty poor even if they sell for 200.00 with my cost and the hassle of it all.

I'll see how it goes. Between Lawyers and foreign ripoff outfits I figured three things would happen. I'd spend even more money, more time, and still be pissed off when it was copied later. Thus the low pricing.




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