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Discussion Starter #1
Could use some guidance from folks with more experience in this area...

I designed a very dynamic analog overdrive last year.
It's not a mod - a completely new approach, built, proven live, sounds awesome I dare say.
I was thinking of approaching a manufacturer re licensing... or something.

I don't want to go through the patent process myself (been there, painful), and I don't want to become a manufacturer.

Any advice re: who, how to approach & what sort of agreement I could entertain?

FYI Kevin's post on the good folks at Empress inspired me: maybe I could talk to some FX Co. without getting a mess of lawyers involved; just a thorough demo, an NDA & some trust
- or am I being naive?
 

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I have never engaged in any such partnerships. I've had my ideas used, sometimes with acknowledgements, sometimes without, but never any sort of formal contractual thing. So don't look at me for any legal advice.

But what I will say is that there are probably several thousand overdrive "designs" out there, if not tens of thousands. And these days, a goodly chunk of them are produced in other countries, or were produced in other decades. As such, they exist, but we have never run into them because they simply aren't available everywhere. And, as abundant as schematics, factory-issue or reverse-engineered, are these days, we don't have access to absolutely everything.

So, I'm not saying you have definitively reinvented the wheel, or that I wouldn't be blown away if I had the luxury and privilege of trying it out, but for this sort of product one needs to do extensive research before having any assurances that a product is indeed unique enough to appeal to an investment or manufacturing partner, and make your efforts worthwhile. When it comes to overdrives/distortion/etc., we're all pretty much like the legendary blind men and the elephant - we're knowledgable only about what we are familiar with because it is available to us. It's like coming up with a great chord progression and melody, not realizing that there was this monster hit in Bulgaria or Norway, 12 years ago, that was identical.

FWIW, last year I approached a well-respected manufacturer with an idea for a product that I felt (and knew) was unique and filled a market niche. The manufacturer responded that the idea was terrific, but was pretty much "off-brand" for them, hence too much of a risk to take on. Flash ahead 6 months, and I corresponded with another manufacturer who already produced a partial solution to the technical achievement I was aiming for. We went back and forth a bit, and Friday I received a prototype for what could end up being the missing component of what I had pitched to the first party. There is no expectation on anyone's part, at the moment, that it would BE turned into the product I was envisioning, but I got the other party interested enough to engage in the R&D that was currently above my chops/pay-grade, and provide something that very well could be within my technical/intellectual grasp. I might make the product for myself, and use a working version as proof of concept to re-approach the original party. A year later, and things have changed in the industry, in terms of what counts as a viable product. At this point, it may well be less "off-brand" than it was a year ago.

ADDENDUM: If you haven't gone there already, the effects database will have about as many descriptions and samples of overdrive pedals as can be found anywhere: distortion/fuzz/overdrive
 

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Discussion Starter #3
...for this sort of product one needs to do extensive research before having any assurances that a product is indeed unique enough to appeal to an investment or manufacturing partner, and make your efforts worthwhile.
I did extensive research & a patent search last year, it looks to be (gasp) original.

...We went back and forth a bit, and Friday I received a prototype for what could end up being the missing component of what I had pitched to the first party.
It's the 'back & forth' part that interests me most. Without getting into specifics, what was your discussion / agreement about?
 

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Well, given that I received a note this afternoon (this morning, actually, but I didn't see it until after I posted here) from the first party about possibly collaborating on a particular pedal, I re-pitched my initial idea. So, given that it is premature and there is still much to be debated at this point, the discrete thing to do is not to reveal anything.
I hate to be a tease, but there are others involved here, and I have to protect them.

I salute you for doing a patent search. Given how expensive it can be to secure a patent, do not mistake what you did not find in the patent search for what is not "out there". In other words, there can be plenty that is close to what you've come up with, that is not patented. Again, not trying to rain on your parade. Just trying to inject some realism.

The discussion (back and forth) was regarding a change to the function of a programmable device.

In any event, and in response to your original query, who you approiach would depend on how big a splash you need to make, and how congruent your own circuit/product is with their own product line. If it expands their offerings in a productive way, they might be interested. If it casts a shadow over something they wish to feature, they might not be so interested. So I think you need to check out their product line before approaching them.

Much to my surprise and pleasure, the opportunities for partnering seem to be increasing. Boss collaborated with JHS. Keeley has collaborated with others. One Control partnered with BJF. And so on. So the possibilities seem to be there. The pedal would have to fill a niche in their product line, though, for them to be interested.

Protecting I.P. is a touchy subject. Though I cast no aspersions, my recommendation would be to only work with someone who is English-fluent, so that everybody clearly understands everybody else. If you had money for lawyers, I wouldn't be so picky, but it seems like it would be you alone seeking a partnership. Avoiding misunderstandings will be important; good fences making good neighbours, and all that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I meant back & forth re: how you came to the point of making a prototype, not the circuit specifics, or any legal specifics.
That's the part that's missing for me - the approach to the company, with what intention, understanding & purpose.
Thanks!
 

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Nothing earth-shattering, I'm afraid. It was simply a matter of getting him intrigued to change the programming a little bit. I was as surprised as anyone when he contacted me and said he was sending me a prototype chip to tinker with.
 
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