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Checklist for Developing an Invention

Inventors and businesses seeking to create assets out of their innovations often ask, “What steps do I take after inventing a product?”  While there is no single answer to that question, there are a few fundamental 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.

Step One: Conceptualize Your Invention in Writing

The first key step is to conceptualize, that is to develop a concept and write your ideas on paper. This process will help to get your creative juices flowing.  Draw a few figures to further help explain your invention.   These drawings should capture what you believe is inventive about your invention.  Additionally, the drawings will help your patent attorney analyze your idea.  Those having multiple inventions may take special note from keeping all ideas in a notebook for safe keeping.  Keeping a notebook also may be useful in the future if you need to reference previous ideas.

Step Two: Perform a Prior Art Search

A prior art search is another critical step that should always be completed before you begin to develop your idea or invention.  In patent jargon, the term “prior art” means documents, such as scientific publications, patents and patent applications that are in the public domain prior to the date you seek to file for a patent.  A prior art search is a search for prior art pertinent to your invention to determine if your idea has already been invented.  Ultimately, a prior art search will help to determine the likelihood that you will be able to obtain a patent on a given invention.

Step Three: Conduct Market Research To Determine If Your Concept Makes Business Sense

If you aim to profit from an invention, then another critical step that you should consider is to conduct market research to help you determine whether there is a market for your invention.  You should consider how many people would likely want to purchase your product if you were to sell it.  Moreover, determine what percentage of those people have the means to purchase your product.  Conducting preliminary market research will help you evaluate whether the money you might earn from selling your invention will be worth the time and resources that you will invest in developing your idea.

Step Four: Protect Your Invention

Yet another crucial step is to protect your invention by obtaining a patent on your invention.   You might often hear the “Sharks” on the television sitcom “Sharktank”TM ask, “Do you have a patent on your invention?”  A patent is a legal document that grants you the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing your invention into the United States.  Obtaining a patent will provide you with a limited time monopoly, which ultimately will provide you with a huge competitive advantage.  There are different types of patents that protect different aspects of an invention.  For example, ornamental features on an invention are protected by design patents.  On the other hand, functional features of an invention are protected by utility patents.  An experienced patent attorney will help you determine the type of patent application most suitable for your needs.

Step Five: Have a Prototype Made

As a patent attorney, I am often asked, “Do I need a prototype in order to file a patent application?”  The answer to that question is no – you do not need a working prototype to file a patent application.  Many inventors acquire patents without having the means to reduce their concept to practice in order to produce a working prototype.  However, once they have filed for a patent, many of those inventors will eventually enter into licensing agreements with others, who sell the invention and pay the inventor a royalty fee.  Nonetheless, for those who intend to manufacture and sell their inventions themselves, 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.

Step Six: Validate Your Invention

Validating your invention is done by testing the performance of your invention through a series of 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 stopping passersby on the street to try your product or invention.  However, by publicly testing your invention you are placing it in the public domain, and you will have a short period to act before becoming prior art.  Therefore, 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 and inventors in many countries and many regions in the United States protect their intellectual property.  To discuss your options, click here to schedule a free telephone conference with one of our experienced patent attorneys.


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