What To Do When You Have An Invention Idea
“What do I do if I have an invention idea?”
For decades, even centuries, this has been a major question that prospective inventors have asked. You have an idea and you know that the world needs to be introduced to it - what now?
Don't let your brilliance be a supernova.
We're going to talk about how to take your idea through the proper steps of vetting, researching, elaborating, patenting, all the way up to selling it for a profit.
For an inventor who has thought of an idea that would be useful to the public, knowing how to transform that idea into a tangible result is paramount.
As valuable as the invention idea itself is, without translating it into a tangible and feasible product, it is useless. It burns bright one minute, gone the next.
Kind of a shame actually...inventors add innovation to the world, but what that really translates to is this:
Have you ever been frustrated at something - anything - in your daily tasks or routine? Anything?
It could be ketchup that won't come out of the jar and you feel like you're wasting money. Maybe the car seat for your kids is so frustratingly difficult to install or operate that you thought, "there must be a better solution".
If you run through your daily life tasks, I'm sure you will find something that you think could be improved upon.
But an invention idea that never gets out of the idea stage takes away what could make life as we know it better, more efficient, or less frustrating!
So that said, it's safe to say that an untranslated idea is of no value to the inventor or to the world.
It's time to transform invention ideas into a viable, commercial, and marketable products.
Starting At The End: The Road To Making Money From Your Invention Idea
In translating an idea into a viable invention, there are two distinct ways a prospective inventor can decide to tread: You can decide to manufacture and market the invention personally, or choose to license the invention to another party who would see to the manufacture and sale of the invention.
Either way, it is critical to protect the idea by filing a patent application to ensure that your idea is not stolen or reproduced by another inventor.
Patenting helps secure your fiscal future as an inventor.
But there are a number of steps to take before you get there, so let's do a review of the process you should follow when you have an invention idea and want to take it to market.
There are four major steps required to transform the idea into a viable invention; this all happens before you sell the idea as a product, process, component, etc. These include:
Properly Document Your Invention Idea
Simply having an idea - even if it's a groundbreaking idea - is not really worth its weight in gold.
You need to make your idea valuable.
A valuable idea is one that can be sufficiently proven out.
So how do you prove an invention idea out in the early stages of the process?
Inventors need to justify when and how the inspiration for their product idea came about. In this vein, it's crucial to exhaustively write down or document everything that is related to the invention idea.
There should be adequate explanations of exactly what the invention is, how it would be made, what it looks like (sketches, diagrams, etc.), what it does, how it affects the public and how it would be marketed.
Documenting an idea represents the first big step toward getting an invention idea patented.
As an inventor, a journal is the perfect place to express and write down ideas throughout the entire course of the process of inventing (and patenting).
There should also be a witness to sign the journal (notary, even better), just so it holds in the court of law should the need ever arise. (As a side note, if you do have a witness, you may consider signing an NDA or other confidential agreement with them to ensure your invention idea remains yours!)
The journal to be used for documenting the invention idea should be a bounded notebook with consecutively numbered pages. The pages must not be removable or refillable.
Why Should Inventors Document Their Ideas?
If you're serious about having your invention idea come to fruition, at some point you will have to prove that the idea was yours.
Documenting every detail from day one is a surefire way to prove to any court or lawyer or other entity, at any time, that you have been cautious, proprietary and systematic in your approach to bringing your idea to life.
If you are maintaining a meticulous, dated, progressive and informative journal and record of your steps, ideas and activities, then proving yourself the ideator and originator is going to be much easier.
If there were ever a case where someone was trying to rip off your idea (don't think it can't happen), chances are you'll be able to make the stronger case if you've taken care of your documentation throughout the process.
Apart from proving yourself as the originator, a record of the steps and actions that surround your invention will help you go back, retrace steps, and apply different thinking to certain pieces of your invention idea.
In all practicality, fast forward a few months from idea origination, you may forget some of your thoughts or ideas on, for example, how your invention is made.
Now you can turn back to it and think differently - maybe even more creatively because you're better informed - about how it's made.
In short, documenting your invention idea is critical to getting a patent, and it adds efficiency to your invention process.
If You Want To Patent Your Idea, It Needs To Be Well-Researched
Both legally and from a business perspective, performing adequate research on an invention idea is critical.
After sufficient documentation as described above, inventors need to carry out two basic research initiatives on the invention idea: Patentability Research & Marketability Research.
These pieces of research are guaranteed to save inventors time and effort, not to mention money.
OK, you have an invention idea.
It's thoroughly documented. It's well-researched. It's actually your idea and you can prove it.
Prototyping Your Invention
Once you have seriously developed your idea out -- and after you made a conscious decision to pursue it and follow through, putting everything you have behind the concept of one day selling the invention for cash -- you've arrived at the prototyping stage.
Welcome to when it all starts to get really interesting.
The brilliant ideas you've meticulously written in your inventor’s journal are brought to life by building a prototype.
If you ultimately want to get a patent for your invention and sell it, having a prototype is essential.
I've written about what prototypes are and how to create them, but what else does the prototype actually help with?
The biggest benefit of an invention prototype is that it makes it easy for you to sell your ideas to potential licensees or lenders (who will come in handy when you need to market the product).
With a physical and practical model of the invention, it becomes easy to drive home valuable points.
To make a prototype of an invention, there are some steps that must be diligently followed. They include:
There is a more explicit explanation of prototypes here, but the point is that if you have gotten this far, you need to make sure you do the prototype correctly. It's going to be time consuming, but the return on the investment can often be immeasurable.
Prototyping is actually not the only next step following idea development. It should be done concurrently with filing your provisional patent application, so please visit this page and read as well.
The provisional patent application gives a “patent pending” protection to the invention idea for a period of one year. This enables the inventor to carry out other required researches on the invention to ascertain its viability and continue to iterate on the prototype.
After you prototype your invention idea, you're stepping into the big leagues...