1st. Determine if your idea is new. Everyone has an idea – but is your idea worth pursuing? Determine if it is indeed a new idea. First, use Google to do a product search to look around. If you find your idea, stop there. Visit the website “USPTO.gov” to do a prior art search yourself. The information is all there – read about it. And finally, visit several local retail stores. Is your idea already on the shelf?
2nd. Protect your idea. In the United States, the policy “first to invent” not “first to file” exists. In order to prove that you were the first to invent your idea, keep an inventors’ journal. This is as simple as purchasing a composition notebook that you cannot easily remove pages from at your local Walgreen’s. In other words – if you tried to take pages out, you’d have to rip them, and there’d be visible evidence. Don’t skip lines or pages, and use ink. Keep good notes and date each entry. Have a friend witness your idea by signing at the bottom of each page that he or she understands what they’ve read. You can also file a provisional patent application – a PPA. There is great software out there that will help you do so yourself. Or you can hire a patent agent or attorney. The PPA costs a little over one hundred dollars. Now is not the time to file a patent.
3rd. Prototype your idea. Build a prototype out of materials around the house, like paper, or take apart existing products. Your prototype does not have to be perfect by any means. I don’t send prototypes to companies. I instead recommend that you draw it or take a picture. Post that picture in the middle of your one page sale sheet, with a one-sentence benefit statement. Your benefit statement should answer, “What problem does your idea solve?” Add your contact information and a few short details
4. Start calling companies. Know what you are going to say before you dial. Find companies that would be a good fit for your product by visiting several local retailers. Who sells a product that is related to yours? Introduce yourself on the phone as a product developer, never an inventor, and say that you would like to submit a product idea. Ideally, speak to someone in sales or marketing. You will probably be asked to sign an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement. That’s good practice, so sign theirs when they ask, or ask them to sign yours.
5. Be patient. The inventing industry is really based on a numbers game. Get to work creating new ideas, or send your existing idea to new companies.
InventRight: Helping You Bring Your Product to Market