In case you are too busy to drop everything and pour all of your time into an idea that you might want to invent it is important to know what steps to take. This way you can save time, continue to work your regular job and figure out how to turn that crazy idea into a million dollar invention.
Here are 10 tips to get you started:
- When brilliance strikes and you come up with a great idea, create a record of invention before going any further with it. The record of invention should be written in ink and should include:
- a clear description of the idea,
- the date,
- your signature, and
- the signatures of two people you trust who have “witnessed and understood” your invention and the dates they sign.
- Build a prototype as soon as you can to transform the idea into a physical object.
- Be discreet. Do not talk about your invention with people who are not bound by a confidentiality agreement.
- Keep good, complete, and accurate written records, including:
- A written lab book or log, kept up to date as you work on your invention, that documents each day you did something, describes the efforts you have made in taking your invention from idea to reality (including test results, experiments, modifications).
- Note: Have two witnesses sign and date your record book stating that they have “witnessed and understood” the work you have done to build and test your invention.
- Copies of all correspondence (including e-mails!) and any receipts relating to your invention.
- Don’t do too much work on your invention until you get a good idea of whether it will sell well.
- A suggested rule of thumb to determine whether your invention will sell well is that the total sales will be at least twenty times the cost of inventing and patenting it.
- Include in your cost calculation the cost of filing fees, hiring a lawyer to help with your patent filing, and the person who prepares the drawings of your creation.
- Assess whether you will be able to get a patent on your invention. Answer the following questions:
- Is your invention novel?
- What is the prior art?
- If you are improving on something that has already been patented, is your invention a new physical feature, a combination of prior separate features, or a new use of a prior feature?
- If you are improving something that has already been patented, is your invention not obvious?
- Does your invention produce a new and unexpected result?
- Does your invention fall into one of the five classes of items that may be patentable? That is, is it a process, machine, an “article of manufacture,” “compositions of matter,” or a new use of any of those items?
- Do a patent search.
- Keep a file for your invention that contains items and information you and your lawyer will need while you prepare your patent application.
- Start exploring and thinking about how you will market your invention.
- Work with an experienced lawyer who is licensed by the Patent and Trademark Office and does patent work for a living.
Do you have any advice to offer a new inventor on any steps you feel should be taken that weren’t cover?