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Does This Unexpected Income have a Greater Meaning? May 8, 2009

Posted by ozsomesuccess in Business Success, Law of Attraction.
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Prototype of large-format hanging file folder system

Prototype of large-format hanging file folder system


For those of you who clicked-through to here from Facebook, Twitter, or one of the other listserves I’m on, your curiosity piqued by the teaser, “What Do I Do with Class Action Check?” I’m betting some of you are facetiously thinking, “I’ll take it — sign it over to ME!”

But seriously, folks – let’s look at it from the perspective of the Law of Attraction. I was totally shocked when I opened up the envelope from the Federal Trade Commission and found a check inside for over $800. When was the last time you got paid for doing absolutely nothing?

This check has a history. It’s part of a class-action settlement that I didn’t even know about.

One thing that most of you don’t know about me: In addition to being the author of Don’t Start a Business without ME! and composer of The Passion of Persephone, I am also the inventor of an office product. It’s a hanging file folder that’s legal-size in width, but 3.75 inches taller, so it can accommodate newspaper articles and other large-format documents without excessive folding.

To make it, I cut a legal-size file folder apart at the fold, then cut a 3.75” length of another file folder at its base, cobbling the resulting three pieces back together with duct tape. (Yes, duct tape reaily does hold the world together!)

I even devised a storage unit with 3 drawers that are tall enough to accommodate these folders, by modifying a closet unit from Ikea. Everybody who has seen the prototype, believes “you’re going to make a ton of money with this.”

And that’s why I contacted Davison Inventegration, an R&D firm in Pennsylvania, in 2005. They were really excited about the concept, because they could see that it met a need that wasn’t currently being satisfied by anything currently in the office-supply market.

I signed a contract with them, authorizing them to do a patent search, file a trademark application, and develop a working prototype. They would also go to bat for me in negotiating the best possible terms of any licensing deals. I had a choice of contract terms: $8000 and a 20% commission payable to them out of any royalties I’d receive from licensing the product,  or $10,000 and a $15% commission, or $12,000 with a 10% commission. I chose the last of these.

They developed a portable prototype that was smaller than my file cabinets, something that could be easily sold for $24.95 retail. Several months later, they were ready to make a presentation to Fellowes, the makers of Banker’s Boxes.

This was a process that took several months of waiting – getting onto the manufacturer’s calendar (which often required at least 2 months’ lead time), then going to make the presentation, and then waiting a month or two to hear the result.

When Fellowes turned them (and me) down, it was back to the drawing board, so Davison Inventegration could rework the packaging of the prototype with the name and logo of the next manufacturer to be pitched.

Each time they had to do this, they would charge me another $335 to revamp the prototype.

It was a long, slow process, and I myself did not get to actually go with them to any of the presentations. After 4 tries, Davison came back to me again, with another prospect, another contract for me to sign, authorizing them to proceed – and another request for $335.

The kicker was their description of the latest prospective target: “In the past, we have made 14 presentations to this company and secured 0 licenses.”

Not exactly a track record to inspire confidence!

It was now November 2008, over three years since I’d begun working with Davison. By this point, I was really mad. I called them up and pulled a Donald Trump on them: “I’m not going to sign this contract. You’re Fired!”

Over the next six months, I pretty much just gave up on the project, as a new one claimed my attention: the writing  and publication of my book, Don’t Start a Business without ME! . . .

Until, out of the blue, I get this check from the FTC. The letter accompanying it reads: “The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, settled a lawsuit against Davison Design and Development, Inc., formerly known as Davison and Associates, Inc., and its principals. According to the FTC, the defendants enticed consumers with false claims about their invention promotion operation.

Of course, I was shocked, delighted, and grateful for the unforeseen income. But it also got me to wondering about how the Law of Attraction is playing into all of this: “Is the Universe trying to nudge me to pick up this project again?”

This happens in the same week that Warren Buffett sounded the death-knell for the nation’s newspapers. Believing that they will be entirely replaced by online communications, he “won’t buy them at any price.” And when Warren speaks, Wall Street listens.

And yet, even if people are buying newspapers less and less . . . they’re still keeping articles, and even entire special sections when their favorite sports teams win the World Series or Super Bowl, or some other really historic events that mean a great deal to them . . . aren’t they? Could a home product that preserves them for posterity still be a viable idea?

If so, how do I re-activate the project . . . without signing anything away to a so-called R&D firm? What manufacturers should I approach?

Anybody out there want to be a venture partner with me on this?

Your comments are welcomed below.