Getting Started

So, let's say you've read the rest of these pages and you think VentorBridge may be a good fit for your needs.  Maybe you have a small business in need of a new product, but the technology is missing some crucial piece.  Or maybe you're an individual with a great idea, but you've steered clear of those TV offers and taken the first steps of finding a real business partner to work with you: one already working in an area related to your invention, and familiar with the market.

Finding a Patent Attorney

Once again: VentorBridge doesn't practice patent law, nor can we give you any legal advice.  We're engineers and technologists, not lawyers.  So hopefully, you've also chosen a patent attorney.  If not, we can make the following recommendations….

We've worked for many years with Nexsen Pruet, and can recommend them wholeheartedly.  They're located in the Southeast, but have patent attorneys licensed to practice in most states.  Our main contact there is Michael Mann.

LegalZoom is a good option for filing a design or provisional patent, but please remember the provisional is only a “foot in the door”; it buys you a year to get the nonprovisional (utility) patent filed.  And that, of course, will have to include finding an attorney who can.  LegalZoom unfortunately does not offer that service (or at least, not yet).

An on-line service like may be able to connect you with an attorney licensed in your state.  Or, you may prefer just to aim your search engine at  “patent attorney,” followed by your state or city, and see who pops up.  Look for one within driving distance, since you'll sometimes want to meet face to face.

Working with VentorBridge

Start by writing a roughly 100-word explanation of your invention and why it's needed, without giving away anything you consider proprietary.  Don't tell anything of the “how” if you know it, just “what” your invention is meant to do.  Send it to VentorBridge using the message form on our contact page.  Include your preferred e-mail address and, in case that doesn't work, a snail-mail address and phone number.

We'll review your idea, decide whether it falls within our capabilities, and respond usually (and depending on how much research and discussion it takes) within one to two weeks with a “yes” or a “no.”

It may be that your idea falls outside our combined areas of expertise, or maybe our initial patent search has turned up lots of prior art showing it would be hard to get a useful patent.  In that case, we won't lead you on or try to “B.S.” you: just tell you “no,” and why not.

Let's say, though, that things look good and we give it a “yes.”

Please look over our Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA).  Note that once the NDA is signed, we are obligated to protect any confidential information you send us, regardless of whether we complete the contract or not.

Download, print, fill out, and sign the NDA.

Alas, at this point we'll need to ask for a deposit to cover work needed to scope out the project and prepare the contract.  This is normally $500.  BUT, if you've already retained a patent attorney who's looked at your idea and thinks it may be patentable, include a note from him or her stating that on official letterhead and we'll drop it to $250.  And if that note is endorsed by one of our affiliates (just a few added words will do, signed) we'll waive it all.

Snail-mail the signed NDA, the attorney's referral note (if any), and a check for the deposit (if required) to VentorBridge at the mailing address shown on our contact page.  We'll countersign the NDA, then return you a copy along with any questions we have about your idea.  You may freely share proprietary information once the NDA is in place.

Once we know enough about your project and how you'd like us to help, and once we've done enough further research to help clear up any questions, we'll put together a contract spelling out what we think needs to be done and what it will cost you.  (Yes, it's VentorBridge policy to agree on all dollar amounts firmly at the start.  No surprises.)  See this one for an example of what to expect.

Warning: it's possible that our “further research” will turn up prior art we hadn't seen before, or that what you need — once we understand it better —  turns out not to be within our areas of knowledge after all.  In that case, we'll return your deposit check uncashed.  The information you've shared will still be covered by the NDA.  Again, no “B.S.”: if we don't think we can  do it, we won't lead you on.

A project like the one in the sample contract will cost around $10,000 if you choose to have us help bridge all four “rough spots.”  Dollar amounts printed in black in the sample contract are firm and non-negotiable.  Amounts shown in blue (as if handwritten in) will depend on the scope and complexity of you
r project.  And of course, should you not want us to bridge all the “rough spots”, we can drop out one or more stages along with the associated fees.

Once we've both signed the contract, then, we'll get started.