You have an idea, but you’re not sure what steps to take next. Even if you work with a company such as ours who will represent you and your idea and work to license it for you, there are still very important steps to take to be prepared.
Your first step is to research the market and be sure your idea is unique. The easiest way to start is a web search. Use as many keywords as you can think of to describe your idea. Check places you would think to look if you were wanting to purchase it. Now there are many, many products that are only available online so this search should take a fair amount of time. A search of retail stores is always a good idea as well. Don’t just limit it to big box stores though, check specialty outlets as well. If after this, you’re in the clear and haven’t found your idea your next step is to search for patents. You can go to the USPTO.gov website or Google Patents. Again, put in as many key words as you can think of. Be sure to check under classifications as well to be as thorough as possible. There are good instructions on the USPTO website to help you on how to perform a search and you can also check YouTube if you would rather a visual demonstration of the steps. Don’t underestimate this step. The majority of patents issued are for products that never make it to market, but you still have to be concerned about infringement.
If you do locate a patent that is like your idea, it’s not necessarily a dead end. You always have the option of contacting the patent holder (inventor) and negotiating a deal. Perhaps you could buy the patent from them, or partner up. If their patent is just sitting idle, partnering with someone who can bring it to fruition may be a better alternative to them if they know they aren’t likely going to bring it to market. At least they have the opportunity to potentially make some revenue.
Next you’ll need to create a prototype or have engineered drawings created. Depending on how intricate your idea is, you may be able to make a sample yourself and save thousands of dollars. As long as it looks like/works like your idea you can start there. Just make sure it looks professional. I am often surprised at some of the samples we receive for review that are tattered, torn up and non-working. This represents you. Make a great impression!
Also up for consideration now are 3D printers. They have come way down in price and can double as a second income stream creating items for a fee for other people. And let’s face it….they’re super cool! But do your homework. The lower price can be tempting, but those models likely can’t deliver what you might expect. There are material & size limitations and you need to supply the digital – Computer Aided Design (CAD) file to provide instructions on what to print.
You’ll now be much better prepared to decide your next step to market… Licensing your product or manufacturing!
As always, feel free to contacts us with any questions.