I Have an Idea for a New Virtual Pet
What Should I Do ?

We have received several letters from individuals who say they have an idea for a new keychain virtual pet they want to sell or license to a manufacturer. We have created this page as a response. Note - we are NOT talking about "add ons" such as pouches, related board games, etc. We are talking about the virtual pets themselves.

If you represent a firm seriously interested in the developing a virtual pet, please see the paragraph at the bottom of the page.

The suggestions below are to be taken at your own risk
and are certainly not being given as professional advice 
by Gary Polson, Lora Polson, or Polson Enterprises. We do
suggest you receive professional advice from several 
qualified people as you develop your invention.

We are going to "tell it like it is" which may "rain on your parade." With that behind us, here we go ...

First, we do not make or sell the pets. We only provide information about the pets and the industry.

Second, if your idea is for a conventional keychain pet, with a new type of insect/animal/person (some we have not seen yet include: ant, grasshopper, spider, cow, zebra, elephant, housewife, cowboy, banker) FORGET IT!!!!

The manufacturers are focused on cost reduction, improving distribution, adding new features to their existing pets (linking, talking, pausing, etc.), and clearing out old stock. They have hundreds of new "character" ideas themselves.

Among their current industry developments are special editions for tie-ins with movies (Men in Black), companies (JAL Japanese Air Lines), fast food chains (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Toys (Barbie), TV (Sabrina's Cat), and other similar projects. The manufacturers are being contacted by these large concerns and produce special editions for them. The units are usually their standard units with some cosmetic changes. These "deals" provide them with solid orders for hundreds of thousands of units. They have very little incentive to talk to you about some idea you think might sell, when they can cut deals like those.

There have been several innovations in the industry: linking pets, cases that detect your "rapping" on them, the use of LEDs, custom cases shaped like animals, talking pets, the pause feature, and others. Currently, there is another wave of innovations similar to these already being worked on by the manufactures. To show them something new in this area you are going to have to be way in front of the current virtual pet technologies. (Infrared links and Television interaction are already well past the drawing boards stages at pet manufacturers). If you have an "innovation idea" of this nature it might well be useful, but it will be very, very hard to present and sell.

Also, most of the keychain virtual pets have been originally built for consumption in Japan and then were mover over to the U.S.. If you are a U.S. viewer of our website, you probably have little concept of what kind of virtual pet might be successful in Japan. That is where most of the manufacturers are targeting new products.

For these reasons and others mentioned below, trying to sell you idea of a new virtual pet to a manufacturer will prove virtually impossible.

Steps to Marketing Your New VP or VP Innovation

This is a Brutal Industry for Inventors

This is a good time to point out this is a very brutal industry from the individual inventors perspective. If you were ever able to get an audience with a manufacturer, they might well just take you idea and run with it. The big boys can smash you even if you have a patent. They steal your patented product idea and produce it, your lawyer sends them a "cease and desist letter" telling them you think their product infringes on your patent and they should "cease and desist" marketing the product or you will sue them for infringement. They may respond with a "weenie offer" of pennies on the dollar of what a normal license fee for them might be and tell you if you don't sign up they will file a suit against the validity of your patent. If you get in a patent suit you better have over $150,000 in the bank. Since most of us don't you either take the "weenie offer" or just let them alone. They begin mass production and with their large established marketing organization they squash you in a couple months. Not a pretty picture.

I'm not saying all the big players will do this, I'm just pointing out that they can do this to you pretty much "at will".

As we mentioned earlier, virtual pet manufacturers know that once they go into production with a new virtual pet or vp innovation, if it is successful, the competitors will follow with the same idea very soon (patent or no patent). You will have a very, very difficult time of trying to get the major players to look at your invention. Normal large corporate barriers, the NIH (Not Invented Here) problem, a history of almost never dealing with individual inventors,are compounded with the international problems and language barriers in this industry.

If you do license your idea to someone, you can't just set back and count your money. They may not actively market your product and cause it to "die on the vine". They may just be busy fighting other fires in their company or just not really be interested in your product. They may try to market it and it might fail.

As we mentioned earlier, the manufacturers are concerned with cost reduction, improving distribution, adding new features to their existing pets, and special edition pets at this time. New pet ideas from the outside are a definite low priority.

Some of the very basic problems encountered by all are:

I suggest you do some real soul searching about:

Take the above two groups of questions, think about them, and take them with you when you go somewhere for assistance. You need to find the answers to these questions for your specific situation. Some resources can be found in our Inventor Links in the Other Useful Links section of our RBBI web site.


There will be very few or no outside inventors profiting from ideas regarding new virtual pets.

We posted this information to try to answer your questions and help you realize the difficulties you will face in trying to sell an idea for a new keychain virtual pet or VP innovation. I'm sure its not what you wanted to hear - but it will help prepare you for what is out there if you try to go forward with your idea.

Please DO NOT contact us for names and addresses of the manufacturers.

If you have a serious project in this area and understand there will be large investments required in market research, design, new product development, tooling costs, etc. we provide services in this field as Polson Enterprises Research Services.

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