Here are some quick tips to get you started on your invention idea. Following these steps will help you to be prepared when you have an idea, evaluate the window of opportunity and focus on the ideas that could have the best chance for success.
Keep That Idea Close
Capture that idea immediately by writing it down, sending yourself a text message, an email or leaving yourself a voice message describing your idea. How many times do you find yourself in the middle of something and you get distracted, maybe the phone rings, someone calls your name and you lose your train of thought only to forget what you were just thinking about.
Visualize Your Idea
Draw what you envision your idea looks to the best of your artistic ability and think about how it would be made. Use a simple piece of paper, sketch it on the computer, your tablet and start to think about what material you could us such as plastic, wood, recyclable material or metals.
Your Idea Used By Others
You may be emotional attached to your idea, however you should think about how others would feel about it and if they would use it. Why would someone buy it? What do you think it would cost in retail? Who is your target audience? Is your idea for the masses or limited to a select group of potential clients or customers?
Is it Your Idea or Someone Else’s?
Perform a search to reveal if your invention idea already exists by check online stores, going to local boutiques, watching home shopping channels during your product category airings, looking through popular print or online catalogs, visiting specialty or big box brick and mortar retailers where you think your product may be sold. Also search online by typing in various descriptions of your idea on several search engines such as Google, Yahoo] (http://www.yahoo.com/) and [Bing, which will show you search results of websites and images to review. Also visit the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] website (http://www.uspto.gov/) or [Google Patents] (https://www.google.com/?tbm=pts), enter various titles to describe your idea in the search field and look at the drawings and descriptions on existing patent results. Start by looking at the artwork and then review the patent holder’s claims to their invention.
Track Your Facts
Keep a log of what you find by jotting down the stores that had similar or the same type of products, the brand names, patent numbers, was that and your thoughts to compare and research relative to your idea.
Moving Forward or Moving On With Your Idea
Did you find your idea out in the market already? Is there a big enough difference from what you were thinking to what already exists? Did you not find anything at all that looks like or describes your idea?
Claiming Your Idea
The answers to the questions above may require professional help by a patent attorney or agent for them to read through the patent records and review the products you found. You can find a list of registered intellectual property services in your area on the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] (http://www.uspto.gov/) website mentioned earlier. This step may cost you a few dollars but may be well worth it. Imagine skipping over this step, starting on your idea and then finding out that you are infringing on someone else’s patent. You should ask for a letter from the lawyer or agent that will give their opinion if your idea may have a chance for intellectual property protection with a patent or other form of protection.
Coming up with your idea, evaluating the opportunity and taking the next steps of turning it into an invention requires some attention. You may be considering putting your time, money, energy or other resources into this idea or deciding that this wasn’t the one and move on to your next idea. Remember to put your emotions aside and envision when you come up with an idea that you are starting a business and this is part of the market research and development process.
By Brian Fried