How to Sell Ideas Online
If you have a great idea, but don't have the capital to make that idea a reality, selling your intellectual property online may be a good option. You'll make some money for your thoughts and get to see your brainchild come to fruition. However, there are a few crucial steps that must be taken to ensure your idea is not stolen---the Internet offers instant connectivity to millions of people, so it's important that you protect the information you put out onto the web.
Visit the US Patent and Trademark Office's website at USPTO.gov. Search existing patents by category to make sure your idea has not already been patented by somebody else.
Describe your idea in writing, covering all possible applications of the idea. Get these documents dated and officially notarized. Notarization services are typically free of charge at banks. Documentation that is not notarized will not hold up in most courts.
Patent your idea by filling out the required forms at USPTO.gov. It is important that you utilize patent protection, not trademark or copyright protection. Services other than patenting only protect the individual expression of an idea, not the idea itself.
Promote your idea individually through online networking. You cannot simply put your sellable idea up on the web for everybody to see; even if you've protected the idea with a patent, it can be pirated by individuals from other countries. There is no such thing as a universal patent, but the US Patent and Trademark Office is able to help you patent an idea in certain countries participating in PCT patenting. Visit the PCT portion of the USPTO.gov website for additional information on foreign patent applications if you plan on selling overseas.
Post generalized, teaser descriptions of your idea on classified sites like Craigslist.org, asking for individual, verifiable United States contact information from potential interested parties. After you've confirmed that an interested party is, in fact, operating within the United States, you can share more specific details about your idea. At this point, if the potential buyer steals the idea, you're covered under US patent law. If you have even the slightest inkling that a potential buyer is working internationally, do not share your sellable idea.
Utilize social networking sites to sell the idea; Facebook and MySpace are good options for finding potential interested parties. Many companies and interested individuals have social networking profiles for easy communication with clients.
Market directly to businesses that may be interested in your idea. Send formal letters or e-mails providing some details about the idea and giving contact information for further inquiries.
Take bids; don't just assume the first offer will be the best you can get. If you snag several interested parties, you'll be able to negotiate back and forth for the best price.
Study contracts carefully. If an offer is extended, take the contract to a lawyer. Make sure you fully understand what rights and privileges to the idea you are selling and which ones you are keeping.