Getting Started With Your Invention
You’ve come up with a brilliant idea for a new invention and you just don’t know how to turn your invention from an idea to a marketable product. You’ve put “help with my invention” into every search engine on the Internet. The answer doesn’t seem to be in any links you’ve clicked. You do not know much more about the inventing process than when you started. Unbeknownst to you, you’ve already begun the process. It starts with an idea.
Where to Start?
You have begun your road to fully realized invention promisingly. You have an idea and began searching for information on the Internet. Before you continue, take a moment and write everything about your invention in a notebook or word processing document. You should include features, qualities, material, potential buyers, and anything else relating to your invention running around in your head. Before you continue on with the inventing process, you need to find out if a similar product exists. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website offers a patent search option. If one doesn’t exist, start researching. Spend some time figuring out the aspects of your invention. You can use the Internet and visit the local library to flesh out the details.
Who Can Help You Get To The Next Step?
For the most part, there are three groups of people who can help you get started. These groups include successful inventors or marketing agents, librarians and patent attorneys. Successful inventors or marketing agents, who have undergone the patent and product development processes, can answer your questions. They are, however, hard to find. If you need guidance, your best bet is to employ a patent attorney. Patent attorneys specialize in patent law and are bound by law to keep information about your invention a secret. Plus, they’ve likely led multiple inventors through the process. Librarians can help you navigate the library and help you find the information you need.
For much of its existence, patent law has undergone little change in the United States. However, in 2011, patent law changed from first-to-invent to first-inventor-to-file, which means filing for a patent should be high on your to-do list. Your Internet search for “help with my invention” probably included links that encouraged you to hash out the details and make a prototype before filing for a patent. Given the recent law change, instead start work on filing for a patent as soon as possible. You don’t want to spend time making the prototype and end up losing the right to your idea. The patent process starts with filling out the patent application form, which is available on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. If you need help filing for a patent, seek assistance from a patent attorney.
Be prepared for bumps in the road. In 2011, inventors applied for 503,582 patents. In that same year, only 247,713 patents were granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Many patent applications do not get approved on the first try. Additionally, the patent application process can take years. For example, it took Facebook 3.5 years to receive its social media “news feed” patent. Don’t give up. Meanwhile, you can work on a prototype.
Making A Prototype
Consider every aspect of your idea. Start with a drawing. Once satisfied, create a 3-D model out of foam, clay, or any other material available. Then, develop a fully functional model out of the exact materials. You might find help from many sources during this phase. You can ask a student at the local trade school or a good friend with the necessary skills to assist you. If making a 3-D model of your invention costs too much, consider creating a 3-D computer animated model. This prototype can help you get funding and convince others to help you make your invention a reality. You will need a detailed concept to take to a manufacturer. These details include size, shape, weight, taste, color, smell and any other qualities you deem important to the product.
Marketing Your Invention
After the creation of your invention, there are many ways to market it. You can create press releases and send them to every newspaper. You can use coupons, television commercials and social media. Another option is to license your invention to another company wherein you earn royalties from the invention. These royalties will typically be between two and twenty percent of the profits. You might find this a small percentage for all the work and money you’ve already put into the idea, but you won’t have to worry about finding further funding, manufacturing the item or marketing your invention – and this percentage will add up quickly if your product is a big seller.
Getting your invention from the “help with my invention” computer search to the market shelves is a long and often daunting process. Don’t let the process diminish your enthusiasm. Someone might find your invention the answer to their prayers!