Category Archives: Protect Your Invention

Who to Trust with Your Idea or Invention

You have been keeping your idea or many of your ideas a secret all this time and now ready to bring them to reality.

This may require you to search for outside help, which means that you will have to reveal what you are working on or thinking of at some point. So how can you protect yourself and your idea from getting ripped off? Let's see who you might need involved and how to take certain measures to keep your idea confidential with others.

Who Would I Need To Help Me With My Invention?

It could be your inner circle of friends and family that you want to ask of their opinions about your idea. If you're considering filing for a patent or other intellectual property, you may want to hire a professional patent attorney or agent. You may want to develop a computer engineered drawing (CAD) and may need the assistance of a product designer or an engineer. Perhaps you want to make a prototype and will need to send those CAD files to a 3D modeling service or get a quote for production from a factory in the United States or overseas. There may also be an opportunity to show, sell or license your invention to opportunities that come along and they may want to see everything you have been working on.

What Should You Tell Them Regarding Your Idea or Invention?

At first when you are evaluating companies and what they have to offer, keep the conversation general. They will most likely need to know more specific details before providing you a quote so find something similar that already exists and mention to them to give some estimate of what you might expect. Review this process with several service providers and get a feeling of how they conduct themselves, what their costs are and what you can expect from them.

The Trust Factor

It's important to consider that before speaking to anyone about your idea or invention in detail that you have an NDA also known as a non-disclosure agreement in place. This NDA serves to protect your idea and information you share as the disclosing party and anyone who signs it agrees to keep any related information they receive from you confidential unless you permit otherwise. Whether you are seeking help from service providers, discussing your idea with consultants, or gauging consumer interest, ask everyone involved in discussions to sign an NDA and keep a record of them filed away.You may also here the NDA also be referred to as a Confidentiality Agreement or an MNDA, which stands for a Mutual Confidentiality agreement.

Where to Get a Non-Disclosure Agreement for Your Idea or Invention?

There are some government sponsored organizations such as SCORE that offer a sample template on their website [score.org] that could work just fine for you.You can also ask an attorney for a blanket NDA that you could use and fill in the blanks as you present the agreement to the receiving parties. They may charge a fee for providing you their form or they could charge you for each use of the form you ask them to prepare for you.

You may have this initial fear of someone stealing your great idea and keeping it all to yourself. The options are to keep it all to yourself until you one day see it on the store shelves developed and for sale by someone else, saying that it was your idea back in the day or sourcing out the help you need to bring your idea to life and owning it. Taking the steps of researching and networking can also help with background knowledge of who you are about to collaborate with. Your risks can also be minimized by having the receiving party of your idea or trade secret on notice when asking and them signing an NDA, keeping track of correspondence and building a mutual respect for each other.

By Brian Fried

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Finding a Manufacturer for Your Invention

You brought your invention idea through the beginning steps of the process, preformed a patent search and now exploring various options of bringing your invention to market.

You could license your idea to a manufacturer with distribution which requires minimal risk and pays you a royalty or you may decide to go into business for yourself by manufacturing your product and taking a larger risk with potentially a greater return.

Responsibilities of Invention Manufacturing

Now that you decided to manufacture your invention...

there are some questions you need to ask yourself. Do you have the finances to invest for set-up, tooling, production, packaging, liability insurance, websites and marketing initiatives? Do you understand your industry and what the buyers or sales reps will expect of you? Are you prepared to handle shipping, warehousing, accounting, product safety testing and other responsibilities that come along with starting a business? There are entrepreneurs that forge ahead and find out these answers as they go along, perhaps learning lessons along the way and some may look to find a partner or partners to help in sharing the responsibilities.

 

Invention Manufacturing in the U.S. or Overseas

Manufacturer working on a new invention idea in a factory

The entrepreneurial inventor may look to keep manufacturing in the United States or search for manufacturing overseas.

You will need to evaluate production costs, volume minimum order quantities (referred to as MOQ) and maximum capacities of production, shipping costs and overall comfort level of a local factory vs. overseas. With technology today, cameras can be honed in live on your production activities whether in the US or overseas through the internet.

 

Finding a Local U.S. Invention Factory

Find a manufacturer for your invention

 

When searching for a local manufacturer, there are resources online with directories of manufacturers such as ThomasNet.com.

Filter what you are searching for by using the words "contract manufacturing" and include the generic industry or specific terms that the search would recognize. Contract manufacturing means that the factories are for hire and work with outside companies. You can also search by state and even by city to find a factory near you. Trade shows have manufacturers that exhibit and you can speak to them directly. Ask other people, including friends and family you may know that are involved in manufacturing or work in industrial parks may give you a lead. Also, finding a fellow inventor that may have taken their invention into manufacturing may have a factory they could share that work with inventors and possibly accept smaller orders to start.

 

Searching For an Overseas Manufacturer for Your Invention

 

Exploring overseas factories can be just as easy as finding them locally.

There are many online directories to explore such as a popular international portal called Alibaba.com. Search for a similar product compared to yours that can direct you towards a matching factory. Pay attention to the vendors on the website while doing your search by referring directly to manufacturers. There are many distributors that simply sell product inventory from factories and there are brokers that represent many factories. Indicate which are factories, connect with them with an online chat feature, web video call, call by phone (many of them speak English well) or email them for more information and a time to connect. Do research away from the website on a search engine to learn more about them or go to the direct website of the factory and get familiar with what they offer. Be sure to ask if they own the factory, if they're an employee or a broker. Ask questions about what type of products they manufacture, get references and call US companies that they work with. Also, as mentioned earlier, check with other resources and referrals to connect you with overseas factories.

 

Requesting a Quote

 

When approaching a manufacturer for a quote, they most likely will be asking you for computer engineered drawings (CAD) or 3D files that the factory will be able to review in development software tools to evaluate how much material and labor may be needed. They may also help in assisting to identifying what type of materials you could use and estimate a cost for the tooling or set-up costs to mass produce your product.

Finding a manufacturer may be one of the most important decisions you make. Think about the time and costs associated with starting with production. Once you start with a factory, it may be complicated to start moving around your production and equipment used including tooling or molds. You can look at your selected factory as your partner and work towards open communication, understanding and expectations to have peace of mind for you to focus on other steps of launching your product.

By Brian Fried

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Start Here With Your Great Invention Idea

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 Invention 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 and Bing, which will show you search results of websites and images to review. Also visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website or Google Patents, 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

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Different Types of Patents To Protect Your Invention

Want to Patent an Idea?

Coming up with an idea leads to several steps and decisions that may need to be made to protect it. You will want to talk about your invention idea to your family, friends, co-workers, potential partners or investors to share in your excitement. During this part of the invention process you may want to discuss confidential information with others and need to have peace of mind to do so. Below are ways to protect your idea and also work towards receiving an issued patent. If you decide to file any form of intellectual property, it is suggested to conduct a patent search first.

Many inventors may be on a limited budget or may want to explore the marketability of their ideas and have a level of protection when discussing the details. An option may be to file a provisional patent to start. Here are definitions you should know directly from the US Patent and Trademark Office website:

Provisional Patent

A provisional patent application (PPA) is a patent application that can be used by a patent applicant to secure a filing date while avoiding the costs associated with the filing and prosecution of a non-provisional patent application. More specifically, if a non-provisional application is filed within one year from the filing date of a PPA, the non-provisional application may claim the benefit of the filing date of the PPA. Because a PPA is not examined, an applicant can also avoid the costs typically associated with non-provisional patent prosecution (certain attorney's fees, for example) for a year while determining whether his/her invention is commercially viable. Further, because a PPA is not made public unless its application number is noted in a later-published application or patent, the failure by an applicant to file a non-provisional application based on his/her PPA will not lead to public disclosure of his/her invention.

Definition of a Patent

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States" for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

Types of Patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues several different types of patent documents offering different kinds of protection and covering different types of subject matter.

Utility Patent- Issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to
exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing ++, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Approximately 90% of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents, also referred to as "patents for invention".

Design Patent- Issued for a new, original, and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture, it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design for a period of fourteen years from the date of patent grant. Design patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Please note that the fourteen year term of a
design patent is subject to change in the near future.

How Much Does a Patent Cost?

Filing fees are available on the US Patent and Trademark Office website. In addition to these fees, you may hire an intellectual property attorney or agent which may charge by the hour or filing. Some inventors may choose to file on their own and need to follow strict guidelines to be accepted. See: Fee Schedule from the US Patent and Trademark Office

Whether you decide to manufacture or license your invention, protecting your ideas could be important for you and your intellectual property. Having the security of the world to know that you are claiming your idea can give you peace of mind to move forward for the time your protection is in full force until it becomes public domain. Once your patent is issued, it is your responsibility to protect your intellectual property from infringement and enforce your rights. Some inventors also choose to invent and receive a patent to simply hang on their wall.

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How to Come Up With a Profitable Invention

Read article here:  How to Come Up With a Profitable Invention. Got Invention? www.gotinvention.com Need an Inventor Coach? www.inventorconsulting.com Need to find Inventor Resources? www.getinventionhelp.com Keep on Inventing! From your Inventing Tip Master, Brian Fried  

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