I think I invented something, now what do I do?

shutterstock_117241084by Kathleen Kuznicki, Esq.

Before you take any further steps to develop your invention, you need to determine if you can realistically generate revenue from your invention. You will need to determine:

  • Is it something people will want or something people truly need? Are you solving a pervasive problem? Who are the target users? Is it the general populace or niche population? Are there customers already buying something similar? Or will you have to attract the early adopter demographic?
  • How important is your invention? Are you filling in a gap of the state of the art? Is your invention disruptive? Or is it incremental? Is it a practical improvement? Can it make a difference?

Your in-depth market research will provide answers to the above questions and many more. After all, you will not reap financial reward for your inventive idea if no one is ultimately going to buy your product. If after evaluating your invention, you are truly serious about developing it into a commercial venture, be aware that you have a long road ahead. Are you ready for the challenges of commercialization?

The feasibility of your invention needs to be established. Inspirational or conceptual ideas are not inventions! Your idea needs to be concrete enough to design and make a prototype. Can your inventive solution be tested, validated and developed into a marketed product?

You need to decide if you should apply for a patent to protect your inventive idea. Pursuing patent protection is not without challenges. Not all inventions are patentable as defined in the patent law. Your invention as claimed in your patent application needs to be novel and not obvious when compared to prior art. The invention also needs to be claimed as patentable subject matter, for example you cannot claim an abstract idea such as managing a game of BINGO online or a product of nature, such as naturally occurring chemical extracted from a plant. And of course, the cost of having a patent attorney or a patent agent work with you to overcome these challenges during a patent prosecution can be substantial. That is why you need to determine ahead of time whether you have a marketable invention that is worth this significant investment. If you choose to pursue patent protection, it is best to be patent pending before sharing your idea with others or in any way reveal your idea to the public.

Getting a product to market on your own is rare and very difficult. You will need to develop strategic partners for matters like product design, manufacturing, distribution, and promotion; or when looking for investors or licensors. These consultants or collaborators can be met through networking. To attract partners you should build a prototype for a demonstration of its usefulness and advantages. This will be more impactful at showing the value of your invention than drawings or concept slides. You should also be able to articulate the positive and negative aspects of your market research. Partnerships should be established  as early as practical; so you need put yourself out there in your relevant industry and community and meet people as early as possible. And be someone with whom people will want to collaborate. People want to do business with someone they know, like, and trust. Building these relationships may be the most important thing you can do to successfully commercialize your product and make your dreams come true!

For more information on this topic, Kathleen Kuznicki can be reached at kkuznicki@lynchlaw-group.com.
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