I was reading Stanford's technology transfer statistics. It looks like in the past around one quarter of their patents were licensed whereas now the number is greater than one third. This may at first sound encouraging to the aspiring inventor.

However most do not produce substantial revenue.

The two main reasons are

  1. Small addressable market
  2. Miscalculation of the quality of the value proposition

There are other smaller reasons like

  • poor enforceability
  • poor leverage
  • design arounds

But for the most part Im looking to get an understanding of those two main reasons and which one plays what role.

The reason I ask is that Im trying to create a narrative around inventorship which can explain why some inventors get rich and others don't.

Thanks for your help

  • I don’t know of any specific research on this. I think your speculation on the reasons is plausible. As for why most inventors don’t get rich, I believe most inventors work for a company and as a result the company owns the invention. This was certainly true for me.
    – Eric S
    Aug 22 at 2:23

1 Answer 1


Some issues that affect independent inventors are -

Decision between licensing and starting a company to exploit their invention.

Marketing ability vs technical ability

Unrealistic expectations

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