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How can I design a portable foldable chair?

By Jeff Frank

I am sure that there are hundreds of designs for this type of product that have already been awarded patents.

Assuming that your portable chair is a commercially viable product, you will need strong patent production. Otherwise the first time you show your product to an existing manufacturer, there is an excellent chance they will simply copy it.

If you show your chair to half a dozen potential manufacturers I can virtually guarantee that at least one of them will copy it if they believe it really does have commercial potential.

If you decide to make the chair yourself and sell it online (without patent protection) you should be OK up until the time when it actually begins to sell in substantial quantities.

At that point there is an excellent chance that you will be knocked off and a competitive product will appear at a lower price.

Although this might sound extremely discouraging, your situation is not hopeless — but you will have to design and market your chairs as something “unique” that people will be willing to pay extra to possess.

If the primary focus behind your design is to make it “cheap” you will be doomed to failure unless you are able to license your patents to a major manufacturer.

From the day you are paid your first royalty check the manufacturer will be trying to figure out a way to design around your patent.

That statement comes from personal experience. In 1993 I was one of three co-inventors who licensed 5 patents for multi-functional ready to assemble upholstered furniture to a multi-billion manufacturing conglomerate.

Over the following three years the company sold (and paid royalties on) $25 million of furniture based on our patents. At that point the manufacturer closed down all of its 20 furniture companies including the one manufacturing our products.

A couple of years later I discovered that within one year after licensing our patents the conglomerate had initiated the multi-year process of filing their own patents to go around the patents they had licensed from my company.

Those patent applications were incomplete when production was shut down.

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