Congratulations! You have taken the leap to become an inventor with your first invention/idea!
Now what? Taking the right steps early will get you off to a great start with your invention. So, let's get right to the first step.
Grab your copy of Where to Search for Products – blue button below.
Step 1: Search Broadly – and You May Find
What fear, as a new inventor with an exciting new invention idea, keeps you awake at night? That your invention is already ‘out there.'
Am I right? I know I am about this one.
So, your very first step is to do what you probably don't want to do at all:
- to look everywhere to see if your idea is already out there
Here is why you must take this action and take it first. If you don't, you may spend thousands of dollars and years of time pursuing a product that already exists somewhere in the marketplace. If it already exists in the marketplace, you won't be able to patent it. If you can't patent it, you cannot prevent anyone else from copying your idea and selling it too, perhaps in much larger volumes than you can.
You should search for retailers who carry similar products to yours – start by looking at their online websites first. This shouldn't take too long as major ‘big box' retailers are shrinking in numbers as internet marketers carve away their market share. Next check the Alibaba.com website – they have millions of different products from all over the world. Then, search on Amazon.com to see what they carry. Also, search on HSN and QVC, both of which introduce thousands of new products every month. For more details on this, grab the attached free file – Where to Search for Products.
Step 2: Search the US Patent Office Website
Assuming your first step did not find anything quite like your product, congratulations! But, your search is not over.
There are nearly 10 million issued US patents on the US Patent office website. Check the Where to Search for Products file for a bit more detail on conducting your search. Don't spend money at this point paying a patent attorney or an agency to do the search – because you can do an initial search for free.
Consider USPTO.gov to be an ongoing resource, for not only your first invention idea, but many others afterwards.
Warning – the site seems a bit daunting the first time, but I assure you that you can navigate it to do a fairly comprehensive search on your own. Prepare to invest some time and read some of the resources provided on the website to assist you in your search. Make a large list of keywords for your initial simple search. For example, when I researched wallets for my first invention. I searched wallets, billfolds, small leather goods, clutches, pass cases (an old name for wallets) and a variety of others. As you find some patents and look over them, you will broaden your search terms more.
Here again, fear not! If you find something quite similar to your product, you will feel disappointed, but it is actually good news. Had your not searched at all – you may have spent thousands filing a patent, only to discover much later – you wasted the money and years of time – because your product was already patented.
Step 3: Do a Pre-Mortem on Your Product Idea
What is a pre-mortem?
Whereas, a post-mortem is a critical analysis done after product has failed, a pre-mortem is done before the product has even launched – assuming it may fail. The pre-mortem is a disciplined critique you must do of your own product before you go out and spend a lot of time and money on it. How does it work?
First, ask yourself, “is this truly a viable product… or just an idea?”
One idea that has tested and failed – in many configurations – is wings you can use to manually achieve flight, just like a bird. It may be a great idea – but the human body is too dense in weight and our arms are not sufficiently strong to flap such wings repeatedly to achieve flight.
Look critically at your invention product idea. Could it be packaged and put onto a store shelf? If it were, would consumers immediately ‘get it' – to understand its purpose and benefits enough to want to purchase it? Could it be made with a 5X mark up from manufacture to retail (a $5 manufacture cost would translate to a $25 retail product)? Would you buy your own product? (Often the answer is no!) Would it have some sort of ‘fatal flaw' – like a pogo stick that would allow you to jump up to 10 feet in the air?
If your product idea passes your critical pre-mortem, good news, you may just have the next great product that consumers would love to have and use. If not, go on to your next invention idea.
Don't forget to grab your copy of the Where to Search for Products – Cheat Sheet – blue button below.