Is There a Genius in Your House?

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What do I do if my child invents a new product or toy?

Is There a Genius in Your House?

If you're like most parents, you try to encourage ingenuity and inventiveness in your child. Kids love to take everyday household items and make something new out of them. But what if your child actually comes up with a novel and marketable idea that way? Should you try to sell it? Call your favorite toy store and try to get them hooked? Alert the local news media hoping to get the idea out to the public? Believe it or not, the first thing you should do is keep quiet. That will be hard to do but, in order to stop someone else from stealing your idea, you will likely have to protect it with a patent. And, according to patent law, there are rules governing public disclosure of a new invention. So what do you do? Here is a list of priorities you can consider to get the best invention help:

*First, create a professionally bound record book and write down all that has happened in the creation of the product and when it happened. Be as specific as possible; include dates.

*Visit the US Patent and Trademark website at to obtain basic advice on patents. There you'll discover that you can file for a patent to protect your child's idea on your own, but it's fairly tricky to do so because writing a claim that guarantees adequate protection is a learned skill.

*Find a local attorney or agent that has patent expertise and make an appointment. If this person is registered with the US patent office, he or she can represent you if you file for a patent. If not, you'll have to represent yourself. Patent agents can offer lots of good advice although they can't litigate in the case of patent infringement and other legal issues surrounding patents. Hiring such a professional will be an investment. But, patent law is quite complex as is the filing process so it's often strongly recommended that you get invention help this way. If you decide to hire a lawyer, pick one that has relevant patent experience. For example, if your child invented a new toy, hire one that has written this type of patent before. If it's an improvement to a bicycle, hire one that understands this type of technical patent.

*Come up with a patent search strategy on your own or with your lawyer that is as thorough as possible. You might discover--to your surprise--that someone else has already patented what you thought was a novel idea. Therefore, filing for a patent would be waste of time and money. Utilize several avenues of searching, not just the Internet. Many experts believe that INTERNET searches are not adequate to uncover all the data you'll need on previous patents.



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