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Topic: I have a new trick idea...
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (May 13, 2011 10:16PM)
Not really sure where to post this, and if anyone knows please tell me, but I am wondering how someone goes about having a trick manufactured or sold through a distributor. I made an effect (Smash and Stab variant) I've never seen before, and don't really want to discuss the specifics until I know it wont get stolen. I've heard tricks don't really get copyrighted for one and I would need someone to make one because it would be difficult to make the apparatus by hand and sell them myself. I want to make money with this if I can and not get ripped off. Anyone know what I could do?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 13, 2011 11:45PM)
Similar questions have been asked here before. I will assume that you have done your research to verify that this is not an idea already existing.

Assuming your idea is new, the bulk of the profits will end up going to whoever takes the biggest financial risk to bring this to market. As the idea man, you are unfortunately, low man on the totem pole. You can increase your take by manufacturing the product yourself (contracting a machine shop or whatever it takes to have the items made), and can further increase it if you also advertise and sell it yourself.

As just an idea man, you may get lucky and find an interested dealer/manufacturer who would be willing to do the rest of the work, but you should acknowledge that he will also, and justifiably take most of the profit. To take an idea and bring it to market usually involves LOTS of work that most people can't comprehend. The R&D of most new items is a very expensive and sometimes lengthy process. Often, it is only financially feasible to manufacture something if they are produced in very large quantities. Does that number reasonably compare to how many can reasonably be sold?

Assuming you do find a manufacturer willing to do this, you may find some that would pay you a (small)flat fee for the idea, fewer that would offer you a percentage of sales. But most builders have an overload of their own projects, and would be less likely to want a new one. Dealers generally want only to sell a ready to market product. They buy wholesale and sell retail. The large firms only buy at jobbers rate, so they can in turn sell wholesale to dealers.

It's a tough business, but not impossible if you have a decent product. But lots of them fall through the cracks in a short time.

While it is possible that someone will rip you off, it usually only happens when they think they can make some money from it. One more method for doing an effect, already marketed with many other methods is not likely to shake the Earth to its core... but who knows? You may have something better than the rest.
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (May 13, 2011 11:49PM)

There are a couple of issues. In order for you to make money, you have to find a way to make them yourself. How many do you think you can sell? Smash and stab type effects have been well visited, and they're often quite expensive. However, with the YOUTUBE disasters, they're also a hard sell.

So.. you have a well visited trick, with a terrible reputation, that you have to hand manufacture.

My Topsy Turvy Soda Bottles as sold REALLY well...and I've sold 250 of them. No one magic trick is going to make you rich..

A friend of mine sold a trick to Tannen years ago... and they gave him 250 worth of magic for the idea... and then the illustration in the catalog was misleading..... but they sold a few.. He thought he was going to make thousands... but he made hundreds..

In order to make money with a trick.. you have to be prolific.. market the hell out of it.. have friends in high places... and perform it in enough place so that people want it.

Never make more than a dozen in advance. ONe of these days.. it will reach peak market saturation, and you'll be stuck with the 11 that didn't sell... but at least you won't have 100.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (May 14, 2011 11:42AM)
Thanks. guys... I've looked around the web as good as I could and have never seen this variant. How do I ask around without it being out there and possibly stolen? It may not be revolutionary but it's mine and I'm kinda protective of it..
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (May 14, 2011 11:56AM)
On 2011-05-14 12:42, Kameron Messmer wrote:
Thanks. guys... I've looked around the web as good as I could and have never seen this variant. How do I ask around without it being out there and possibly stolen? It may not be revolutionary but it's mine and I'm kinda protective of it..

Re-read what the experts have said, these guys know what they are talking about and have given you the best advice all for free. The answer is you can't.

You can send it to Elmwood Magic, they advertise that they will make and market new magic ideas. If accepted, you will probably lose any rights to the trick.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (May 14, 2011 12:09PM)
Joe Porper makes fantastic quality stuff.... much of his new stuff comes from my ideas. Even though you get it going and sell many, all of a sudden ripoffs from China will hit the market.

We have a $700 trick that it complex and difficult to make, but a scumbag has duplicated it, down to the instructions, box, etc. and sells it for HALF of our price.

How we found out? A couple of guys got them (from reputable US dealers?) and complained about the quality. When we saw one we realized it was not made by Porper, it wasn't as precision made.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 14, 2011 12:16PM)
On 2011-05-14 12:56, wmhegbli wrote:
On 2011-05-14 12:42, Kameron Messmer wrote:
Thanks. guys... I've looked around the web as good as I could and have never seen this variant. How do I ask around without it being out there and possibly stolen? It may not be revolutionary but it's mine and I'm kinda protective of it..

Re-read what the experts have said, these guys know what they are talking about and have given you the best advice all for free. The answer is you can't.

You can send it to Elmwood Magic, they advertise that they will make and market new magic ideas. If accepted, you will probably lose any rights to the trick.

I believe this means they would pay a flat fee for the rights to the trick, at which point it is no longer yours, except perhaps with your name attached if that is worked into the deal.

It is true though, that you must execise a certain level of trust. In order to truly know if the idea is unlike anything else regarding method, or worth attempting to market, you'd simply have to bare it all to someone experienced enough to know. Reputable dealers will not rip you off.
Message: Posted by: The Magic Ref (May 15, 2011 04:51PM)
I have gone through the same experiences as you are right now. It is hard to find out if your idea is original or not. The first thing you do is ask your local magic dealer, hopefully you can trust him. If he hasn't seen it before ask him if he has any connections that he trusts at one of his suppliers. If so maybe he can call and ask them. Bottom line is you can research it all day long and not really know the real answer until you put it out on the market. That is when the people will tell you if you are not the first to come up with the idea. And trust me, if your not they WILL tell you and at that time (in my opinion) you have the responsibility to take it off the market. Like the others have said, make up six of them, my advise is to mail yourself one and do not open it. This is a cool way to prove exactly when you came up with the idea, so years down the road, if someone else says it's their idea you can prove you have one with a postmark dated box. :)

Now build a web site, it costs about $120 per year and is so easy to do now a days. Pay magic sites like this one to put a banner ad and see what happens. If you sell the 5 remaining you will probablly pay your expenses and break even. But the bigger picture is you will find out if it is original. I made these custom wands out of this really cool material. I asked everybody I knew, several dealers and 100's of magicians at conventions, no one ever seen them before. I made a bunch of them posted my new wand on you tube and I was sent a link here from another member it said "Sorry to tell you but this is already on the market" I clicked the link and sure enought is was very close to the exact thing. I sold 26 of them in from that one time I posted a link to my you tube site, but I took it off the market because it wasn't mine to sell. :( Now with that said, I will come up with a different idea with them, (I already have some in mind) and will market them when I get a chance. But it is so hard to really now without putting it out there if anyone else has beat you to it.

Now the real questions to ask yourself is this: Let's assume you have a new method, does the trick need a new method? Are the old methods bad? Would someone who already performs the smash and stab want to upgrade to yours? If not I doubt you will sell many of them. The magician market is really quite small to begin with, now count how many magician actually perform and that numbers shrinks ALOT. Now how many who perform have an act where the smash and stab fits? This shrinks the market again, and then of those actual magicians who perform, and want to perform the smash and stab, how many already have one? You can see this is a very limited market. If you really do have one people will want, I would make them with the best quality materials, and charge a lot for them. You are only going to sell a limited amount anyway, and the people who would want this effect are the working pros who will pay more for a better made prop. Think Pete Brio and Porper, think Wolf's magic, think Bob Kohler etc... I don't think mass production will happen, but what do I know... I just do kid shows :)

P.S. I am one of those guys who is always trying to invent my own effects, I have several and I have a blast selling at conventions and such. I have found that a lot of the people in this forum are also from that frame of mind. One thing I have noticed in the world of magic and magicians is there seems to be a couple camps out there. People who invent and market and people who buy and perform. I don't recommened you invent and market to make a bunch of money, you need to do it because you have that passion and it is fun for you. If your good the money will come. If you want to make a bunch of money buy and perform.. LOL welcome to the club... Mike
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (May 15, 2011 09:54PM)
Thanks for all the info! The local dealer is my dad, and he has helped tweak it. I will have to read through all this a bit more detailed later. I don't really think it will make a bunch of money, I just thought it would be cool to put something new out on the market. There are so many rehashes of tricks, I think some people would appreciate a totally different variant. Still a similar trick, I know, but as far as concept it is different. Think more like Jimmy Fingers "slamdown" If you don't know it, he has several cups (i think 6) where he says there are pointed objects under all but one. he blindfolds an audience member and tells him to say stop as the performer waves his hands over the cups. He stops and the audience member says which one is "safe". He smashes the cup which the audience member says to. The audience demands to see whats under the cups (them thinking there really is nothing under the cups) and he does showing a spike under each. I believe that is his. Mine is still different, but its a good example of how it can be a different trick, e.g. there is a twist ending... Like I said, I don't expect to get rich, I'd just like something of mine out there. If I find someone who can make them fairly cheap maybe I could produce them myself...
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (May 15, 2011 10:47PM)
Don't think about making them cheap. Think about making them RIGHT.

For my Topsy Turvy Soda Bottles, I have to have the tubes CUSTOM made.. there were no cardboard tubes on the market that were both the right thickness and the right diameter at the same time. I have to buy them in quantities of LOTS to make them worth buying. I was crapping in my pants when I bought the first 100. If the effect hadn't been a hit, I would have been out HUNDREDS of dollars.

My next effect, the MisMade monster is VERY expensive and labor intensive to make, but has not sold nearly as well. Personally, I think it's a better trick, but you can NEVER out guess what magicians want. NEVER.

Chance Wolf is a near genius at guageing his market.. but he's been doing this a long time. Sometimes how many you make is based on the materials avaialble. If I have to order 10 of something as a minimum, then I'll build 10 to start. If it's 100, I may build 100.. or I'll build 20 and know that I'll have to build the parts to the other 80 into my profit/loss.

it's a tough racket. Even though it's tough, never let it get you down. Put it out if you think you can, and if it hits, it hits. If it doesn't. There's almost no downside to getting your name out there, unless you go CHEAP.. then it's bad.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 15, 2011 11:28PM)
Maybe someone else here could answer my questions, as I am not sure how things like this work...

First, I have seen descriptions of tricks published in books and magazines, along with a notation specifying, "Manufacturing rights reserved".

Of course, nothing seems to stop the overseas knock-off idiots, but otherwise, how effective is this?

Second, there are lots of conscientious magicians who do what should seem reasonable in regard to their attempts to verify the originality of what they are publishing. Some of them do however offer a disclaimer that states that they have made verification or crediting attempts, but also offer advance apologies in the event that it later comes to light that some other magician's creativeness or involvement had a role in the idea previously. How do you feel this factors into this topic?

One reason for asking this second question is based on the fact that in my own library collection, I have DECADES worth of various magazines and ephemeral publications. I can say with certainty that there is a HUGE amount of unique, and creative magic contained within... magic that may or may not ever again see the light of day.

Because of the sheer volume of material here, and my collection is FAR from complete in that regard, it would seem to be a nearly impossible task for someone to wade through that amount of material looking for proof of their own originality before attempting to market or publish their own ideas... every time they do. It would seem a lot of prolific inventors would be stifled under this weight.

Of course there are instances where someone publishes or becomes identified with something which because of popular culture, becomes attributed to them. (I bet I could find a hundred magicians tomorrow that think Michael Ammar invented the Topit.) So we have the historians who are self-appointed in the duties of keeping such things straight. Should they expect everyone to understand the history of magic at the same level of depth that they do, or is it ok to expect magicians to spend the bulk of their time in pursuit of excellence in their own specific specialty (including the historians), even if it means being less competent in other areas?

It would be hoped for that magicians do grow in their broad study of magic, including the historical aspects, but advanced knowledge is really only obtainable from years of study and experience. Not everyone has been in magic for 50+ years.

Your thoughts??
Message: Posted by: billappleton (May 16, 2011 09:10AM)
From a legal and intellectual property perspective, there really is no such thing as "Manufacturing Rights" that could be reserved or provide protection. Broadly speaking, there are Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights.

Patents are not a way to keep something secret, but rather the public disclosure of a secret in exchange for potential license. I don't see many patented Magic effects, but it's certainly possible. Plan to spend 4-5 years and thousands dollars to go all the way through this process. You would still have to defend these rights in court, but the big stick here is injunctive relief.

Trademarks are for product names and sometimes images used in commerce. It's not that expensive or difficult to get a Trademark, but it happens AFTER a product is successful. To legally defend a Trademark you must show real customer confusion in the marketplace, and that is difficult and expensive.

I believe that Copyright is just about the only thing you can hang your top hat on to protect something like a magic trick. This would be very specific protection on the distinctive visual images (art) and on the actual packaging (words) or the recorded images (video) etc. You cannot copyright an idea however, so I think the path would still be open for a competitive product.

The best way to protect something is to have effective branding, so that people naturally buy your famous whatever, and to have effective distribution, so that your product is on the shelves, and good quality or a difficult manufacturing process that is hard to copy.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (May 16, 2011 09:55AM)
It has been said that only 1 out of 10 magic product ideas are actualy good enough to make it to market.I'm not sure but I think it might be more like 1 in 30. The amount of time wasted finding out if something is workable is a huge investment. I have two tables in the back of my shop piled high with proto types that will never see the light of day. I thougt about building a shelf around the shop cieling for them and calling it the shelf of shame. Just to remind me to think even harder before spending time on new product ideas. A bond fire might be a better idea.

When I first started building magic I was very concerned about someone stealing my ideas. Now days I am much more woried about being acused of stealing someone elses.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 16, 2011 10:36AM)

Thanks for your detailed reply. I suspected that claiming reserved manufacturing rights was only as good as the paper that it was printed on, and that it was really more like claiming "squatter's rights". Not somuch a legal leg to stand on, as a statement that the rip-off guys can expect a lot of screaming if they proceed.

Ahh... still the golden days of magic! It seems things haven't changed much since magicians set up in adjacent theaters to stake claims over certain illusions.

For a list of patented magic effects, see the Secret Sessions forum.

Your final statement sums it up for me, and I'm sure other builders that strive for quality... if someone cares enough to put in the same effort I do, I can only applaud them.


Spoken like a kindred spirit! I called my home in Birmingham, "The House of 1001 Prototypes". You would not believe the pile of stuff I left behind when I moved! Tabby saw it about 2 weeks before Bob Sanders' gathering.

Now, I am starting over with my Midwestern near misses. You and I are only a state apart now. Maybe we can send smoke signals to each other from our bonfires! :)
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (May 16, 2011 11:44AM)
Michael Baker has hit a very nice nail on the head.

When I was a tot magician, and was starting to invent my own stuff, my friends always said the same thing. The best way to bury a good trick is to have it published in a magazine.

Perhaps the best way to get your trick out.. and yet protect the idea is to send it to MUM or Linking Ring.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (May 16, 2011 01:45PM)
When I say "cheap" I didn't mean shoddily made. I think we all have got something crappily made and was very disappointed. Maybe a good idea, but bad implementation. I was simply thinking of making it affordable. I like the publishing in a magazine idea, I'll have to think on it. I think my idea is novel and unique (as far as I know of course) but the method I have come up with needs a prop to work. I've tried to come up with a non gimmicked way to work (i would love it if I could sell this as a PDF so they could make their own, but it seems far too difficult) The there is the problem of the internet and getting a pdf for free on a torrent...

Bill, your right, I havent heard about many effects being patented or copyrighted... Ideas are tricky things...

I'll have to re-read all of this when I get a chance. Good stuff... thanks guys! Any other input would be greatly appreciated...