Most often it’s through word-of-mouth networking and research. Other resources include law firms, university IP offices, and investment forums. In addition, the Internet with its vast resources and powerful search engines is also making it easier to find potential partners all over the world.
The first step is to identify and qualify them. This includes determining if your IP fits their product line, is right for their customers, and they have the capabilities to commercialize your intellectual property.
Here’s a list of the 5 top resources for finding a licensing partner:
- The Internet is a great starting point for quick research. Start with general search terms, such as toys or medical devices, to find companies and their websites. You can dig down from there and start to qualify them.
- On-line Directories, such as Hoovers and Thompson offer databases with detailed information about a company, including operations, products, locations etc. Some of these are free and some paid. You can visit a local library and get access to most of these databases for free.
- Trade Shows are one of the best and fastest ways to meet and make contact with potential partners. It’s a great opportunity to see their products and talk to their sales reps. There are trade shows for just about any type of product, service or technology. Most of the trade shows provide websites, where you can find out what companies are exhibiting and learn more about the industry.
- Third Party Consultants and Agents can manage the whole process for a fee and or percentage. The biggest benefit to using one of these professionals is their expertise and contact database of potential licensing partners. Often times, they can speed up the licensing process because they will know which companies will be best suited for (and interested in) your IP. Before engaging a consultant or agent, do thorough due diligence on these companies and understand what they will do and how the get compensated.
- Networking is one of the best tools for learning about and making the right contacts. You’ll find networking opportunities at local business events, industry conferences and trade shows. Meeting in person gives you an opportunity to learn about the company and their interest in licensing your IP.
Finding a licensing partner can be challenging. The key is to use a variety of these resources to identify and qualify potential partners. Keep in mind you don’t have to restrict your search to your own back yard. Some of your best licensing opportunities could be in other countries around the world.