You have an idea for an invention? You need to know some basic steps to make your goals a reality.
Try to remove your emotion from your invention. Nearly every inventor I speak with has the “best idea in the world.” First time inventors often believe their product will make millions. They might be right, but this is the rare case. Stay focused on following the five steps outlined below.
First, document your idea in a logbook. This helps to organize the thoughts about your idea and it offers some initial protection for your invention. Write down the idea, what the invention does, and how it is different from other similar products.
Each time you get new information about your idea write it down in your logbook. Date and sign the logbook each time you add a new entry. It also helps to have an unbiased getting started with a new invention idea witness or a notary sign each time you do.
The more details you have about your idea the better. Make sure others in the industry related to your idea could easily understand your idea from the logbook. Keep records of sketches, tests, photos, computations, etcetera. All these items should be signed and dated.
Second, research the idea. Use the Internet to search for similar products like your idea. There are various Internet sources for finding companies with related products. Use key words related to your product, such as “hand tool” or “pet products”.
Document the features of all similar products: benefits, price, material, company name, etcetera. Make a table comparing the differences between each similar product. This will help you to determine your product’s niche.
Look for gaps in the product category that your product can fill. Is your product different or unique; for example, does it work easier or better? How does your idea improve upon what people are currently using? You need to have an advantage over other similar inventions.
Third, start a company if your research shows that your idea appears to fill a need. The formation of a company will separate your invention and its related issues from your personal assets. The cost is nominal and worth the protection.
Fourth, build a prototype. Contact a local small business development center or a patent attorney to ask them where to get a prototype. Oftentimes these folks have knowledge of others in the inventing industry. By all means, it is best if you can make the prototype yourself.
Another good way to find companies that make prototypes is by searching the Internet; type in the words “invention prototype.” Try to find a company that appears to be capable of making your type of invention.
Lastly, it is time to find a company to license your invention. Start by networking to see if you can find a contact in the desired industry through another contact. Talk to the person who made your prototype, your patent attorney, and others you came across during the inventing process.
Begin by identifying companies in your vicinity or region who manufacture similar products (ask your Chamber or banker). Contact regional companies to see if they license patents. If they don’t, they may be able to identify a company that does.
If there are no companies in your region whom you can personally go visit, then you can contact potential companies and ask how to submit products for review.
When negotiating a contract you can typically expect to get about 3% – 5% of net sales in royalties.
In general, it is best to invent products that have mass appeal and that can be made with common materials used to produce everyday items. When inventing, simpler is always better.