When it comes to turning a bright idea into a tangible product, there is, unfortunately, no one-size-fits-all recipe. If we found a universal roadmap to success, we could all have at least one patent on our name. We are not trying to discourage you, but if you want to be an inventor, you need to do a bit more than just come up with a good idea.
Before you dream of seeing your product on the shelves, or attracting potential investors with it, you have to take all the necessary steps to protect it.
No matter if you plan to make the product yourself, or sell it to a different company, need to ensure no one else can steal your original idea. Filing a patent may seem like a scary process at first, but we are here to help you out.
Below are some essential tips you need to consider if you want to bring your idea to life:
What made you come up with the product idea? Document every step
It’s not enough to have a good idea to be a successful inventor. If you want to be taken seriously, you need real proof that this idea is yours, to begin with. Start documenting your process the moment you start working on your patent. Get yourself an inventor’s journal and record all the things that have to do with your product. And here you should spare no details: how you came up with the idea, what it’s used for, how it works, manufacturing and marketing suggestions. It might sound unnecessary and tedious, but legally speaking, this journal can save you from a lot of legal trouble. Not everyone who hears about your idea has good intentions; people will try to seal it and, when that happens, it’s good to have as many details as possible to back you up.
To avoid having to prove your inventor’s journal is real, have a witness sign the journal down. This way, you have concrete proof that the idea is entirely original and it belongs to you. If you want to go one step further, you can even number the pages yourself to make sure no one can alter it. There are even diaries that have been specially created for inventors, but you can do just fine with a traditional notebook, as long as the pages are numbered and you take into consideration the rest of the advice above.
Research patents and analyze the market
Before you submit the paperwork for a patent, you need to do some research, both to check that your product has a place on the market and to avoid any potential legal issues regarding the originality of your patent. Here is what to consider for each option:
- Patent research: find out if your idea is original. You may not have stolen the idea from someone else, but that doesn’t mean other people haven’t thought of the same thing. You can do free research on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, to ensure no one has legally protected a similar idea. It is advised you also do a non-patent “prior art” search, to confirm there is not any design or related artwork, because you won’t be able to patent it otherwise.
- Market research: don’t forget that your project needs to appeal to the market as well. It’s not enough if your family thinks your new garage door idea is excellent. You need to see if there is room on the market for it as well. Conduct proper market research to see if there is a need on the market for your invention, to get an idea if your product worth being developed, distributed, and marketed.
Time to build the prototype
Once you’ve made your product idea is original, it’s time to move on to the next step, which is building the prototype. A lot of investors are scared by this step, but you don’t have to allocate a large budget to it. The prototype just needs to be good enough to show how the product in action.
A prototype is basically a demo of your idea, and its role is to demonstrate how your invention is designed and how your ideas are put into practice. Having it done will help you present something palpable to potential investors.
Working on the prototype will show you what potential flaws there are to it, as well as new features that can be added. Do it before patenting your idea, or else you won’t be able to change these things.
The experts at idea4invention.com advise inventors need to take into account the following rules when it comes to creating a solid prototype:
- Draw your product, and index all your sketches in your journal.
- Decide what materials you need to create a 3D prototype of your product and create a mock-up
- Once you like how the mock-up looks, go ahead and create a working model for your new invention.
If your idea is too demanding to prototype, be it because it’s too big or too expensive, you can always do animation or an explanatory video and use it when pitching to potential investors.
Which kind of patent is right for you?
Now that your design is finalized and ready to take real shape, you can move on to filing a patent – which is the most important step, really. According to the USPTO here are two types of patents you can choose from, depending on the type of product you are developing: utility patents and design patents.
The difference between the two can be hard to understand by a beginner, which is why it’s advisable to ask a professional for help.
Now, you might be tempted to take care of all of these things, but it’s better to have a professional review it before submission. You want to make sure no competitor can find an outlet to steal your idea, so it’s best if you talk to an agent or a patent attorney, who can help protect you from any potential legal issues.
Marketing – the final step
Once you have your patent registered, it’s time to do all it takes to put your product on the shelves and make sure people hear about it. First, you will need to come up with a solid business plan and decide on one aspect:
Do you want to oversee manufacturing and create a marketing strategy, or do you want another company to do all of these for you?
While the second idea may seem less profitable, it can actually do a lot of harm. If you don’t have any experience in marketing, you might make a lot of mistakes that will cost a lot to fix in the future, so it’s better to trust an expert instead. Besides, as the inventor, your job isn’t to deal with day-to-day processes. You can always consult with the marketing company, but otherwise, let them do their job and you can focus on your time and energy on big picture processes.