In the last blog, I listed four of the top ten ways inventors fail. Here’s the remainder!
6 – “I decided to order my product from China. Now I have a garage full of product and can’t seem to sell any of it.”
Determine if your idea is marketable before deciding to have it manufactured yourself. Manufacturing a product yourself can be very costly. Licensing may be a better avenue for your idea. It is a much less expensive route and thus much less risky.
5 – “I paid $10,000 for a prototype of my idea only to learn that it does not work.”
The best and most inexpensive way to show your idea is through a sell sheet. A sell sheet shows an image of your product (a photo or drawing) and describes its benefits. Find a local college student to draw your idea. Design the sell sheet and send it out to companies for review. It is very cost effective. In short, you don’t have to mortgage your house to pay for it.
4 – “I have a great idea but no money for a patent. I’m not going to show it to anyone. I don’t want to get ripped off.”
In the United States, the “first to invent” is protected, not the “first to file”. Thus, it is necessary to prove that you were the first to invent your product, regardless of when you filed for a patent. The first and most economical way to protect your ideas is to maintain an inventor’s journal. Date and describe how you invented your idea. It is very important that you use a journal that you cannot rip pages out of it, you write on both sides of the page, and do not skip lines. Have someone read what you have written and sign that they understand the idea. This journal will serve as proof for your invention.
I then recommend that you file a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) for $110 with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Many different software packages designed with the intent to help and guide you write a PPA exist on the market. We sell Patent Wizard on the InventRight site; it’s what I use to write my own PPA’s. A PPA protects your technology for an entire year; you aren’t required to file an actual patent until then. If a company becomes interested in your technology, you can negotiate with them to pay for your full patents.
3 – “I have an idea that will make millions. All I need is someone to get it out there for me.”
An idea is not the same as a marketable idea. You must determine if your idea has any market potential before you move forward. Can your product be manufactured? Is it economical? No one can possibly do a better job of marketing and proponing your product than you. No one is going to look at your product, recognize its genius, and write you a check for a million dollars. Inventors hustle. Your idea might indeed be genius, but you are going to need to work to make people realize that. Successful inventing is ground on hard work and determination.
2 – “I want to come up with an idea but I am not a creative person.”
Everyone is creative. It does not matter if you are an artist or an attorney: everyone has an imagination. There are several games that you can play to come up with ideas. Creating ideas is as simple as looking at the world in a different way – how can an exiting product function differently? What problems exist and how can you solve them? Mix and match ideas to create new ones.
The number one stupid way inventors fail…
“I just paid $20,000 for my patent and all I have is a stupid plaque on the wall.”
Study the marketplace. Determine if there is a need for your idea. Don’t rush out and pay for a patent. Do a Google search first. Is your idea already on the market? Know that it definitively not before you move forward. Search through prior patents at the USPTO. Maybe someone else has already invented your idea. Go down to the local store and see if your idea is already on the shelf.
The main thing I want you to remember when creating ideas is to slow down. Don’t rush out and file a patent. Get some good advice. Ask someone that has been through the process to help you. My father always to told me to get close to someone that was doing what I wanted to do and learn from them. I think this is sound advice –it’s the advice I’ve used my entire career.
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