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  • Assume that a first meeting may last only 30 minutes or so, and prepare a presentation that makes maximum use of a short time.
  • Make sure the company knows in advance of any special requirements for demonstrating your product or prototype.
  • For your own use only, prepare an information file that you can consult for answers to questions. Make sure it is easy to use and that you know what is and is not in it. But:
  • Leave all information about your IP at home. If asked, refuse politely to talk about it at this stage, even if they have signed an NDA. Only when a company shows serious interest in your invention should you make protected IP disclosures, and a first meeting is likely to be much too soon.
  • Do not rely on the prototype or product alone to persuade people . They will also be reacting to you : are you the sort of person (or team) they could do business with?
  • Try to assess the company people you meet as individuals. Could you do business with them?
  • After the meeting, write to them to put on the record your understanding of what has been agreed. If the company's performance fails to match its promises, this may help you decide how much you can trust or rely on them!
  • If the meeting is not successful, do not despair. Listen and learn. If the company people know their market well, you may come away with enough useful information to make the meeting worthwhile.
  • If they reject your invention ask them to confirm in writing that they have no further interest in pursuing it. This should discourage them from developing a similar product and claiming that they had not formally rejected your idea.

Keep copies of all your and their correspondence, especially any that includes hard figures (percentages, predicted sales volumes etc). This is as much part of your IP protection as a patent application, so you must make the effort. Some companies (and, it has to be said, some inventors) will shamelessly alter facts and figures if they think they can get away with it.

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