The following information is from the book “The independent Inventor’s Handbook”.
It is an attempt to give a quick view of the key elements in the process and what it will take to bring your invention to market.
It is not intended to replace the book. In fact, I strongly encourage you to purchase and read the book. You will find it invaluable. Some of the information here is based on my interpretation …….so it is only a starting point. You will need to read the book.
Developing your idea will take hard work, but it can also be fun.
To be successful you will need a product that is marketable (you need sell enough product at a profit to make your investment of time and money worthwhile) and the skills to make it all happen (either the skills to do it yourself or the skills to put together the individuals, companies and/or resources that are necessary).
It will be far better for you to be realistic and make good choices at the beginning rather then to invest a lot of time and money and get nothing for it.
Determine if people will want it.
Here are some things that your invention should do:
- meet a need or solve a problem,
- make a consumer’s life easier or more enjoyable,
- be unique,
- be patentable.
Assuming it passes the first tests you should search the internet to see if it already exists. This is the quickest way to determine if you may have something to patent.
Then search existing patents to determine if it has already been patented. If already patented, check to see if your idea may be an improvement of this existing product.
If it does not a published patent you may have something. However, remember that someone may have submitted a patent application that has not yet been published. It takes more than 18 months before an accepted application is published.
I would think that at this point it would be worth talking to a few trusted friends. However, the book seems to caution against this because of patent considerations. There is a question as to when the “clock” starts running because you have a year from the time the details are revealed to the public until you apply for your final patent. I believe that there also might be a question as to whether these people need to be listed as co-inventors.
Is Your Invention Worth Pursuing?
The next question is whether your invention is worth pursuing. Who is your customer? Will they buy your product? Not every idea can be brought to market at a reasonable price. You should determine as quickly as possible and by spending the least amount of time and money to determine if the invention is marketable.
Determine who your customers are. How old are they? What’s their education level? What is their marital status? How much do they earn? Where do they live? Do they have kids? Need to do this to determine the number of potential customers.
You should survey prospective users and get feedback. You should not go to the expense of manufacturing the product without knowing how customers feel about the product (good and bad).
Don’t forget safety issues and legal requirements.
It is not necessary to disclose your invention as part of the survey. Discuss the problem your invention solves and how consumers address it. If you’re going to reveal details a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) should be signed.
You should file a Preliminary Patent Application (Once you do this you can claim “patent pending”) before showing details to anyone.
Refer to survey questions on Page 40. Note: A written survey is preferred.
*A few words of caution, don’t start unless you can bring it all the way to market. The process will take passion, time, resources, skills, and money.
*Realize that you can’t always overcome public opinion.
* Your greatest challenge may be to convince people to try your product or method especially if it is an entirely new concept.
Prototypes And Small Production Runs!
Once you have determined that a consumer “might” buy it you need to determine if you can sell enough of the product at a reasonable margin to make a profit and justify the investment of time and money. You should persist only when you are sure that a financially rewarding market exists. You should spend as little time and money as possible until you are sure you can make a profit.
If you haven’t already done it, at this point you will need to estimate what it will sell for and how much it will cost to produce. One quick way would be to compare your product to similar products and assume that the products cost to manufacture is about 25% of the retail price.
Test market the product before making large production runs. Prototypes or small production runs.
This will do three things. It will help you to refine your product’s design and function to the actual customer (get the bugs out), it will allow you to pre-sell the product before spending on large production runs and small production runs will help nail down the costs.
Avoid expensive prototypes, if at all possible. There can be problems with manufacturers stealing your idea and getting them to market quicker. You may want to consider using separate manufacturers for making parts and having someone else assembling and packaging them. This would make it difficult for anyone copy your product before you are ready to unveil it.
At this point you should have applied for permanent patent. You have one year after disclosure to the public (including surveys if details were revealed) to make modifications and apply for a permanent patent.
You have two basic choices as to how to proceed to market. Either license it to others (They are responsible for manufacturing and selling, which lowers your risk and reward, but may avoid many resource requirements) or manufacture your product yourself.
Regardless, the product needs to have legitimate sales potential so that you can convince people that your product will sell. To do this you will need actual sales and/or believable market research.
Actual sales might be small orders from trade shows, local businesses, or Internet sales.
Believable market research requires some digging into demographics and statistics. You should be particularly careful not to oversell (over claim) your market.
What kind of person does it take to bring an invention to market?
Vision (passion for the idea/product), patience, able to think strategically, discipline (stay focused), a systematic analytic approach, objectivity, able to solve problems, able to understand complex concepts, have good people skills, able to handle rejection, available time, money (Capital), connections, understanding the steps in the process (and the details as to what is needed to complete the steps)
And if you are missing some of these you will need to be the kind of person who can identify what is missing and to recruit others to fill in the missing “blanks”.
Beware Invention submission companies.
See page 44 for info on Edison Nation.
Thomas Register directories (products and the companies that make them)
Listen to the objections of others (they are key to overcoming market resistance).
The more innovative the more resistance.
Basic Patent Info
United States Patent Office (USPO)
Your ideas are your intellectual property
They may be licensed to others for a profit
Use them to build your own business
Initial patent protection (provisional patent application) costs less than a few thousand dollars.
Page 16 Questions to ask your target customers.
Page 44 Edisonnation.com
Posted By: Rich