As a Fort Lauderdale patent attorney who helps inventors and businesses create assets out of their innovations, I often get asked, “What steps do I take after inventing a product?” While there is no one correct answer to that question, there are a few basic steps that most inventors take when developing an invention. The following steps will need to be accomplished if you intend to create a product or service out of your invention.
One of the first steps, if not the first step, of developing a concept is to write down your ideas on paper. This process will help to get your creative juices flowing. You may also want to do your best to draft a few figures to help explain your concept or invention. You do not have to be an expert draftsman. But your drawings should capture what you believe is inventive about your invention. Additionally, the drawings will help your patent attorney analyze your idea. If you have multiple inventions, you may want to keep all your ideas in a notebook for safe keeping. Keeping a notebook also may be useful in the future if you need to reference previous ideas.
A prior art search is a critical step that should always be completed before you begin to develop your idea or invention. In the world of patents, the term “prior art” means documents, such as scientific publications, patents and patent applications, that are known to the public before the date you created your invention. A prior art search is a search for prior art to determine if your idea has already been invented. A prior art search also will help you determine your ability to acquire patent rights on a particular invention.
You should conduct market research if your goal is to make money on an invention. Market research will help you determine if there is a market for your invention. You should research how many people would likely want to purchase your product if you were to sell it. And, what percentage of those people have the means to purchase your product. Developing a product from inception to production is not an easy task. Doing preliminary market research will help you evaluate if the money you might earn from selling your invention will be worth the time and resources that you will invest in developing your idea.
A patent is a legal document that gives you a monopoly on an invention. A patent on an invention will give you the legal rights to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention. This will provide you with a huge competitive advantage. That is why you might hear the “Sharks” on the television sitcom “Sharktank”TM ask, “Do you have a patent on your invention?” There are different types of patents that protect different aspects of an invention. For example, a design patent only protects the ornamental features on an invention. On the other hand, a utility patent protects the functional features of an invention. An experienced patent attorney will help you determine the type of patent application most suitable for your needs.
Many people ask me, “Do I need a prototype in order to file a patent application?” The answer to that question is no – you do not need a prototype to file a patent application. Many inventors acquire patents without having a prototype. Those inventors will eventually enter into licensing agreements with others, who sell the invention and pay the inventor a royalty fee. However, if you intend to eventually manufacture and sell your invention yourself, a prototype can help you to evaluate and develop your invention. Recently, many of my clients have begun to use 3D printing for marking prototypes. 3D printing is a relatively new process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model. 3D printing is much less expensive than making prototypes by traditional molding processes. Once you have a prototype made you can begin to test your invention to see what modifications you should make. Additionally, a prototype may help you validate your invention.
Validating your invention is done by completing industry trials. This may include having consumers test your product to determine if they are willing to use and purchase your invention. Validating inventions can be done by asking your family and friends to use your product, posting your product on social media and measuring the positive responses, or even by stopping passersby on the street to try your product or invention. However, before doing this you should strongly consider having your invention protected by filing – at the very least – a provisional patent application to protect your invention from your competitors. Click here to learn more information about the benefits of a provisional patent application.
The attorneys at The Plus IP Firm have helped numerous businesses and inventors protect their ideas, concepts and creations with patents, trademarks and copyrights. The attorneys at The Plus IP Firm have helped businesses in Fort Lauderdale and other cities throughout Broward County, in West Palm Beach and other cities throughout Palm Beach County, and in Naples and other cities in Collier County. To discuss your options, click here to schedule a free telephone conference with one of our experienced patent attorneys.
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