Read these 35 Invention Help Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Invention tips and hundreds of other topics.
Many invention services work confidentially with inventors. Patent Attorneys, patent agents and invention service companies all adhere to confidentiality procedures. But developing the good habit of always inquiring about your invention's safety is good business practice. And, you should always be prepared to whip out your own confidentiality agreement whenever necessary.
Before you pursue your new invention ideas, do a thorough review of the types of products available that are similar to yours. Make note of the price and the popularity of the items. Decide if your new invention idea is going to be enough of an improvement to compete with the products already available.
If there are a lot of products similar to your new invention ideas, you may decide that the competition will be too much. If there is nothing at all like your product on the market, ask yourself if it could be because nobody wants something like your new product ideas.
When you are sure that your new product ideas fill a need better than anything available, start developing them.
Did you know Thomas Edison wasn't the first person to patent the light bulb? His competitors filed for and received a patent before him, but Edison challenged them in court and proved his case with a detailed record of the new invention idea.
To document your inventions or new product ideas, use a permanently bound book with numbered pages. This book can be used to document new invention ideas for future development, or to document the progress of an idea from concept to completion.
All inventors go through a trial and error process. Thomas Edison experimented with thousands of inventions that didn't work. Don't be discouraged if your invention ideas don't work out exactly as you planned!
If you're a new inventor, one of the first things you'll want to do is gather relevant marketing information about your new invention ideas. Think about the types of people and businesses that could possibly use your inventions. Review the outlook for the industry pertaining to your new invention idea, determine primary potential markets and secondary consumers, and try to estimate manufacturing and wholesale costs in conjunction with an estimated retail price. By gathering all of these marketing considerations into an organized report, you'll have a convenient reference tool for yourself and others who are interested in your new inventions. If you lack the time or resources to collect and organize all of this data, you may want to look for a reputable invention help company to assist you.
Include the following in the basic information report for your new product idea:
1. Review your idea and prepare a description and history of its development.
2. Describe functions and appealing features of your new product idea.
3. Discuss product benefits: Will it increase enjoyment, safety or economy for the consumer? Are there benefits for society as well?
4. Discuss trends and outlook of the industry pertaining to your invention.
5. Classify your invention or new product idea according to Government Standard Industrial Classification Codes (SIC Codes).
Include marketing and production projections in your new product idea's basic information report:
1. Point out primary potential markets, secondary consumers, etc., by using general U.S. Government statistics.
2. Provide estimates of manufacturing costs and suggest wholesale costs in conjunction with an estimated retail price.
3. Using general statistics, estimate the number and types of outlets where the new product idea could be distributed.
4. Obtain a preliminary patentability search and opinion.
It's inevitable that if you want to bring your invention from idea to new product introduction, along the way you will have to tell someone about what your invention is.
There are two rules to follow when talking about your invention:
1. Tell as few people as possible.
2. Always use a non-disclosure agreement.
A non-disclosure agreement basically says that the signers are not allowed to talk to anyone else about your idea or to act upon it themselves.
The US Patent and Trade Office has strict rules about the public disclosure of your invention. They will give you one year from your first public disclosure to file for your patent or lose your rights. When you use a non-disclosure agreement, it doesn't count as a public disclosure.
Carry a notebook around with you for jotting down new invention ideas as they come to you. The notebook doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. Any bound paper that fits well into the pockets or bags that you usually have with you will work best.
Even if you think you'll be able to remember the details of the new invention ideas that you get while you're away from home, you may not be able to. Jot down every detail of the new invention idea so you'll be able to recall exactly what you were thinking later on.
The percentage of royalties paid to inventors for their inventions can vary from as low as 1-2 percent to as high as 15-20 percent depending on several factors that include the size of the industry, market and manufacturer. An average royalty though is around 5 percent.
Often, a large and well known manufacturer might offer a smaller percentage than a smaller manufacturer. But if that larger manufacturer can bring greater brand recognition, distribution and customers to the mix, the smaller percentage could end up equaling a larger amount of money.
Some people are morning people, while some do best at night. Many people produce best in quiet, while others love the tumult of a busy office. What is the creative environment that gets your invention ideas flowing?
Interestingly enough, the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index conducted a study of where people work best and least. Here are some results that may boost your creativity:
Where do you do your most creative thinking?
- 20.4 percent – In the car
- 19.9 percent – In my office, workspace or school
- 15.6 percent – In bed (falling asleep, waking up or dreaming)
- 14.4 percent – Outdoors
- 4.9 percent – In the bath or shower
- 4.9 percent – While exercising
- 1.6 percent – Watching television
- 1.0 percent – Listening to music
Inventors often working alone in their workshop can lose perspective on their ideas. And while it's never a good idea to show your ideas and latest invention around without restraint, it is a good idea to bring some close relatives, friends or professionals in on the process so you can remain grounded in reality.
If you'd like to talk to other like-minded inventors, it's a good idea to join an inventors association. The United Inventors Association has chapters throughout the country. They run seminars, exchange information, hold workshops and more. What's more, they'll completely understand when you walk into the room with a non-disclosure in hand.
The combined knowledge and experience you'll find will help you navigate the challenging process of developing a new product and bringing it to market.
If you've been working too hard and long on your new invention and need a break, here's just the thing for you. It's time to take a walk on the strange side. Check out some of these web sites to get a glimpse of just how far out some of your peers can get.
Click on any one of these and within no time at all, all of your stress and self-doubt will melt away. Strange inventions, weird inventions and hilarious inventions can all be found at:
1. Totally Absurd Inventions - http://www.totallyabsurd.com/absurd.htm
2. Weird Strange and Bizarre - http://www.bkfk.com/inventions/weirdo.asp
3. The Official Rube Goldberg Site - http://www.rube-goldberg.com/
4. Weid and Wonderful Patents- http://www.lightlink.com/bbm/weird.html
Use a Patentability Search and Opinion to determine if you should pursue patents for your
If it is necessary to indicate a change the text of your invention log, put parenthesis around the text and draw a line through it. You can change drawings by circling or drawing a square around an object and drawing a big “X” through the area. The big “X” practice should also be used to cover large areas of blank page to show they are not in use and will not be in use.
Don't erase or use correction fluid on anything you write or sketch in your invention documentation. Erasing notations or sketches could raise questions as to whether you made an honest mistake, changed your mind or were trying to change the date of conception or development of your new invention ideas.
It is just as important that you do not tear out or otherwise remove any numbered pages from your permanently bound book.
Sign and date the pages of your new invention log as you fill them to establish track record of your invention activities.
Never sign or date any page before using or finishing that page. Also, never back-date pages. Back-dating is a dishonest practice that consists of placing a date on information about a new invention idea so that it appears you performed the documented work earlier than you actually did. Back-dating could affect your rights and call into question the date of conception of your idea.
For the cheapest invention help available, go to the library. Get to know the reference librarian. Look at trade publications that service your invention area and read them frequently. When you find a few trade magazines that are relevant, subscribe to them. You'll be up-to-date with the very latest that is happening in your field without having to spend much money.
Have witnesses sign and date each page of your new invention documentation log as soon after completion as possible. These witnesses should know and understand your invention idea. Be careful with whom you share this information. Insist on a signed confidentiality agreement from anyone you plan to show your invention documentation. Individuals signing a confidentiality agreement agree not to use or disclose the information or details of your invention to another person or company.
A great way to gain exposure for your new invention ideas is to enter an invention contest. Invention contests are held both by invention trade shows and by individual companies. You can find contests for your new invention ideas offered everywhere from pet stores to television stations. Look around for one that will fit your new invention, or invent something especially for the contest. However, you should consult your patent attorney before entering a contest to ensure that you do not lose any rights to your new invention ideas.
Make sure that you are aware of what a patent does and doesn't protect you from.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, “A patent is a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor ‘to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.”
If you know anyone who has gone through the invention process, talk to that person to find out what pursuing a new product idea is really like. You'll find that invention requires a lot of time, patience, dedication and resillience. Because most inventions don't succeed financially, it's important to have a love of the invention process and a real enthusiasm for your new product ideas. For many, the thrill of invention is its own reward.
If you chose to build a prototype or test your idea, write down the process you follow - including your failures. Don't be afraid to document problems in assembly or design or failures during your tests. By studying your failures you will improve on your invention ideas.
By displaying your invention on the Internet, you may uncover new opportunities that you otherwise wouldn't have known about. Web sites such as Invention Place™ [www.inventionplace.com] provide an online forum for inventors, entrepreneurs and intellectual property owners. Through these forums, individual inventors gain exposure for their new product ideas and make contact with interested companies.
Before you do anything else, write your name, address and telephone number in your new invention documentation log. Next, give your invention a name (a simple, brief title will do), then give an overall description of it. Describe how the concept would work, its uses and benefits.
Benefits are what problems your invention solves. The uses description will include who will use it and how they will achieve the benefits. How it works should include a description of the pieces, how they are assembled and what they do.
Assemble basic information about an invention or new product idea to build a foundation of relevant facts and information. You probably already know the invention's name, what problem it solves and who might use it. You'll also want to discover the size of the potential market, possible packaging requirements and trends in the industry. Don't forget to project cost estimates for manufacturing, wholesale and retail.
By creating a new inventor bio to display along with your invention, you can add personal interest and credibility to your invention.
Include aspects of your life that influenced you or made it possible to invent your idea. Is your idea work related? What kind of training do you have? Do you have a degree? Have you invented anything before, or are you a new inventor? Is your invention related to a hobby of yours like fishing, in-line skating or doll collecting? Was it inspired by your son or daughter? Did your upbringing have anything to do with the idea or your decision to pursue it?
Learn the basic definition of invention. Invention is both an action and a thing, meaning that you are an inventor not only when your product is complete, but also while you are in the process of creation.
An invention, as defined by HyperDictionary.com, is “1. the act of inventing; 2. A creation (a new device or process) resulting from study and experimentation; or 3. The creation of something in the mind.” According to Dictionary.com, an invention is a “new device, method, or process developed from study and experimentation,” as well as “a discovery; a finding.”
If you are a new inventor who has little knowledge of the inventing process, you might want to explore options to get help with your invention.
The road to success with inventions as is diverse as the inventions (and inventors) themselves. You can do everything on your own or hire a invention help company that works with inventors.
There's really no "right" way to pursue your idea.
It can help to have realistic expectations about your invention. The majority of inventions don't achieve financial success. If you believe in your invention, it will be worth the effort you put into finding the best way to patent and promote it.
Use detailed text and drawings to document everything you can think of regarding your invention or new product concept. Include design features and benefits, experiments and results, and any changes you make.
Don't allow a lack of artistic ability to prevent you from drawing pictures. Even simple line drawings can help you demonstrate your idea, its use, and a possible construction. Be as detailed and thorough as you can through the entire inventing/documenting process. No part or thought too small to be included in the documentation of your new invention ideas.
Know which type of patent you will need.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a design patent as a patent that “protects only the appearance of an article, but not its structural or functional features.” A utlitity patent, on the other hand, will protect the functional features of your invention.
The USPTO will only grant a utility patent to an invention if it is determined to be “a new, non-obvious and useful: process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter or an improvement to any of [the previously listed items].”
New inventors who would like to patent an idea while working with an invention help company can receive a referral to an independent patent attorney to help prepare and file a U.S. patent application with the USPTO.
If you want to submit your ideas to industry while maintaining the confidential working details, look into a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). For inventors, a non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement is a contract where the signer agrees not to disclose information referenced in the agreement (in this case, information about an invention or new product idea). NDAs can be valuable invention help tools for new inventors.
New inventors will do well to join an inventors' club. Inventors' clubs are a great way for inventors to mingle with each other, make connections and get practical invention help from others who have been where they are. When inventors help each other, they can spread their enthusiasm and increase motivation. Joining an inventors' club can help new inventors take themselves seriously while learning about the nuts and bolts of life as an inventor.
New inventors will do well to sign up for an inventors' newsletter. Inventors' newsletters can provide practical invention help tips on a wide variety of topics, as well as help new inventors stay abreast of the most recent trends in invention and innovation. Many of these newsletters are provided free of charge, making them inexpensive inventors help options.
When it's time to market your invention, check in with your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for valuable inventors help.
The SBDC is a program of the U.S. Government's Small Business Association that provides assistance to current and prospective small business owners. The SBDC can help in areas such as business start up, management and growth. SBDCs assist small businesses by offering workshops and one-on-one mentoring. They can even help you write a business plan. They also possess valuable invention help resources for new inventors.
These centers get a portion of their funding from the government and another portion from corporate sponsorship.
Encourage your children to invent. The USPTO Web site has a section just for kid inventors. It offers invention help, games, tutorials and more.
There are a lot of contests and invention services aimed at kid inventors. Be sure to thoroughly research each one before you sign up. Unfortunately, some companies that claim to want to help inventors will rip you off.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|