Have an Idea? Now What?
NOW LETS PROTECT YOUR MONEY FROM FRAUDULENT COACHES & COMPANIES WHO CHARGE THOUSANDS UPFRONT
- We are inventors just like you here to protect you, your idea, and your money.
- You need to determine if your idea can be a commercial success before spending thousands of dollars with inventor coaches, inventor submission, and licensing companies.
- The biggest and most costly mistake new inventors are making is hiring a coach or invention company before doing your own market research to validate that your idea is needed by thousands of people.
- The questions in this market research guide are a prerequisite before you hire a coach and before you submit your idea to any invention company.
- Many of these companies are fraudulent and masters of deception.
- The most important industry fact these companies will not tell you is – THE SUCCESS RATE FOR AN INDEPENDENT INVENTOR IS 1%.
WHAT YOU’RE GETTING
- No charge for you to use this guide.
- Question guide to help determine if your idea is needed in the marketplace and can be a commercial success.
- Tools and resources useful to help with your research.
- Patent and Intellectual Property Protection Basics
- Prototyping Basics
- Introduction to a reputable patent attorney.
- By doing this research yourself, you are saving yourself a minimum of $3,000 – $5000 and that’s just in the beginning.
Questions You Need To Answer
Market Research Guide Introduction
So you have an idea that you think can be a commercial success. You think it’s possible that this idea is needed in the market place. You think others will buy it. You think it’s a genius idea and you want to test out this assumption. Well, your very first step is to validate your idea first by doing some basic market researching on your own. Here’s a little industry secret, 99% of invention submission and licensing companies that claim they can help you get a licensing deal are mostly full of shit!!
It’s actually really simple for you to test out this assumption on your own without neededing to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars. Answer yes to these three questions and it’s possible you could have a new idea needed in the market place. That still doesn’t guarantee that you will be profitable. However if you answer yes to all three questions, we would encourage you to continue forward. If you answer “NO” to just one of these questions, it will be very difficult and extremely risky to continue working on this idea.
1. Can your product idea be protected?
2. Does it solves a problem for a lot of people? (Typically to reach commercial success a lot of people is at least a few hundred thousand)
3. Can it be made at a cost that can turn a profit?
In order to get the answer to these questions, you must perform your own market research. There are NO shortcuts to getting the information needed to answer these 3 questions. This market research process if done correctly and depending on how much time you can put into it daily, should take at least a few months, possibly longer. Chances that your first idea is worth anything is extremely low being around the 1% range and in most cases less than 1%. This research is a combination of online searching, in-store visits, attending an industry event or trade show and talking to other successful inventors/product entrepreneurs for guidance on validating this idea of yours. If the data from your research reveals this idea is not worth the risk, at least you now have a head start on your next idea if you have one. We mention it a lot on this website, and we will say it again – “the success rate of an independent inventor is 1% and in most cases less than 1%.
LET’S GET STARTED
Section 1: The idea
How did you come up with this idea?
Is my idea completely new or is it taking an existing product and adding new features that solve a problem that the current design does not help? If yes, tell us what product it improves, and why it is necessary.
Is this your first invention idea? If not, tell us about any other(s) inventions.
Does this product idea solve a problem for thousands or millions of people?
What’s the problem/pain point it solves?
Does it solve a problem in a home or the workplace?
If in the workplace, is it an idea that can be a timesaver?
What makes your idea unique and different from others?
What’s your USP, unique selling proposition?
Does it have a WoW factor?
What industry would my product fall under? Choose one or more if applicable:
If none of these please share:________________________
Does a category for this type of product already exist? (ex. tools, hardware, gear)
Does it require any batteries, magnets, or electronics?
Does it need any certifications or permits?
Will it require lab testing?
Does it have moving parts?
What color(s) is it?
Section 2: Protecting Your Intellectual Property
Important: In order to get a patent your idea must be:
Novel – substantially different from anything else that is public knowledge.
Non-Obvious – can’t be easily perceived by a person of expertise in that invention’s particular field.
New – nothing is already known to the public.
Do you think you get patent protection?
What type of patent do you think is needed: Design Patent____ Utility Patent____
What would the product be named?
Can you get trademark protection?
Can you secure the URL (.com) for your potential names?
Do you have any copyright protections? (instructions is one example)
Section 3: Prototyping
Your prototype does not need to look fancy or shiny. It just needs to show that it works as you say it will.
Do you have any drawings for this idea?
Do you have any CAD files?
Do you think you can make a working prototype yourself or do you need assistance?
Section 4: Production
What materials would it be made of?
Is the process to make it commonly used or a new type of process not commonly used?
What would it cost to make one unit?
How many parts is the product made up of?
Does it need screws hardware to be assembled?
How will it be packaged? (blister pack, cardboard box, etc)
Can it be made in the USA, YES or NO?
If not USA, which country?
Does it need instructions?
What are your estimated product dimensions? (length, width, height, depth)
It’s estimated weight?
Section 5: Customer Discovery
Who is your customer? Check all that apply: Male __ Female__
If your customer is a professional worker, list all the types of professions that can benefit from using it. A great resource for figuring out potential professional users/customers – www.bls.gov/ooh/
What is their age range?
Why will they buy this product?
What benefit(s) does it offer to the customers?
What features does it offer different from other products if any exist?
Who will buy it? (end user or someone else)
Can this product be made at a cost that allows you to make a profit?
NOTE: Determining your pricing structure: Typical rule of dumb if you decide to sell in the traditional manner thru distributors, is a 1 to 4 ratio. So if it costs you $10 to make it (your COGS = cost of goods) you can sell it for at least $40. Your ratio can be 1 to 3 or less but needs to be done strategically with a product launch expert. Many new inventors fail to understand this process which is why we recommend you connect with a product entrepreneur who has successful launch experience.
It’s extremely important to know as much as you can about your target customer. The following questions are designed to help you better define and fully understand who is your customer and their purchasing habbits.
What’s their annual income?
Where do they shop?
Where do they live?
Do they support worthy causes?
What brands do they prefer and why?
Do they purchase products based on price, featured/benefits, solves a problem for them or something else?
Section 6: Marketing
Do you need an e-commerce website?
How will your customer buy your product?
Circle all that apply to your potential sales channels:
What would be your sales business model:
A. Business to Business (B2B)
B. Business to Customer (B2C)
Section 7: Competitors
Important: Having competition is a good thing because it proves there is an existing market for your idea. Keep in mind, a competitor could potentially be a strategic partner. Having no competition can be a warning sign that there is no need or demand for this type of product. Investors like to hear that competitors exist.
Recommended: Subscribe to any competitor mailing lists to stay upto date on any new announcements or product releases.
Do you have any competitors selling similar products? If yes, the name of the company(s) and the name of the product(s).
What’s the pricing on competitor products?
Do they attend any industry trade shows or events?
Where do they sell their products?
How are their product reviews?
Are they selling worldwide or only in limited territories/countries?
Section 8: Review Your Reseach Results
If you answered yes to the following questions we recommend you setup a followup session with a member of our team. This session is optional.
1. Can your product idea be protected?
2. Does it solves a problem for at least tens of thousands of people?
3. Can it be made at a cost that can turn a profit?
If you choose to skip the session, we recommend you connect with a honest and trustworthy patent attorney to share your research results and determine if a worldwide prior art/patent search is warranted. If you decide to request a 1 on 1 with our team to review your search results, the session is 30 minutes for an additional fee $99. Go to our contact us page to steup this session.
If you decide to skip the review session with our team and reach out directly to a patent attorney, we highly recommend Joseph Farco. Joeseph has a long history of helping inventors and has assisted our team with some of our rescues. He is trustworthy and will never lie or mislead you in any way. He’s one of the best patent attorneys in the country and Joe is also an inventor himself.
Joseph Farco contact information:
Industry Secrets Revealed
- The success rate of an independent inventor in the U.S. is approximately 1%. Most industry experts say it is less.
- According to the United States Patent & Trademark office only 2% of issued patents ever make money.
- According to the U.S. Government most invention submission companies are either ineffective or fraudulent. The success rates for these types of companies are typically less than 1%. That’s why they charge thousands upfront, because they know the inventor failure rate is 99%.
- Most representatives that work for invention submission companies are paid employees reading a script. They get paid a commission every time they fool you to sign up for a package.
- Most invention companies that say they can help you get a licensing deal or help you sell your patent are also either fraudulent or ineffective. The red flag to look for is the company charging you large up-front fees.
- Inventor coaching programs often hire and train inventors with little to no success of their own to coach new inventors. Imagine paying $3,000 to join a coaching program and your coach is being coached on how to coach you. In addition, you are being coached in a group of lots of other inventors, and not receiving the one on one that is necessary in this industry.
- Hiring a coach before you have done the necessary validation market research is the biggest mistake an inventor can make. No coach or invention company of any type will perform the necessary market research to determine if your idea is worth pursuing.
- Coaches that are employees or consultants for a larger company typically get a commission on bringing in new clients.
- Many invention companies have fake and deceptive testimonials. Pretty sad, but true!
- Most invention companies which include invention submission, inventor coaching and promotion companies that say claim they can help you sell your patent or get it licensed are using false and fraudulent marketing tactics and schemes such as fancy websites, fancy brochures and free invention kits.
- Many companies and independent consultants are guilty of marketing fraud, but no one is policing the claims and flat-out deception.
- Anyone can start and run an invention company that starts charging inventors large upfront fees for invention services.
- Reputable companies don’t license idea’s – they license intellectual property.
- Almost all invention submission and licensing companies make millions annually by means of fraud and deception. Less than 1% of inventors that use these service companies never make their money back.
Research Tool - Google Key Word Search
Search using keywords to describe your product idea. Keep track of all the words you search, and any results that you think should be saved and/or print the data found.
Research Tool - Google Image Search
Click images under your search box to review all images associated with your keyword search. Print or screenshot to keep in a folder properly labeled for this product search.
Research Tool - Google Patents
Do a search on www.Google.com/patents
Use keywords search to see if you can find any patents with a similar product idea to yours. Anything you find similar or close to your idea, save the name of the product and patent number or screenshot the patent number. This information will be useful for your patent attorney. If you want to get a patent you will have to make sure that there is no “prior art”, meaning there can’t be anything like it in the world, or previously patented at any time. Google patents work with the US patent database and allow you to search using keywords just like any search. It is much easier than the USPTO search feature and a fast and easy way to see what other patents that exist.
Retail Store Visit
- Make a list of stores close to your home that sell similar products in the same category as your idea.
- Keep track of your questions and answers from the store rep.
- Visit each store and look for your idea or products similar.
- Look at the packaging and examine the information.
- Speak to the store rep to see how the products are selling.
- Ask about product reviews.
- Which ones are selling more and why?
- How important is the price?
- Are there different sizes or preferred colors?
- Without sharing your idea, think about the problem your product idea solves, and ask the rep if there are any products that solve that problem?
- Ask if that’s a problem they’ve heard from other customers
- Examine the isle where your product would be placed. Which products are eye level and which are below and above.
- Ask the rep if there are any frequent problems customers complain about.
Local Inventors Club or Entrepreneurs Group
Is a great resource to meet other inventors, entrepreneurs, and innovators who may be able to help guide you with market research and assistance to validate the need for your idea. You might meet one or more inventors with products in the same industry, which could be very helpful. Visit and join for FREE, United Inventors Association which is the best and most honest inventors association in the U.S. If you find a group you are unsure of, contact us and let’s see if we can help find the right group for you.
United States Patent Trademark Office, USPTO
The USPTO is a good resource with information that can be very beneficial in helping with your market research and validation and helpful in many more other ways. https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/inventors-entrepreneurs-resources
Research Tool - Amazon Search
Can you find any products like your idea or similar on Amazon. Review the entire page from top to bottom. Check out the customer reviews and any feedback or suggestions.
Research Tool - Alibaba Search
The same type of search as you would do online and on amazon. In what countries are products like your idea being made? Can you find anything like it or similar?
Research Tool - Crowdfunding Sites
Check out Kickstarter and Indiegogo to see if there are any active or recent campaigns for products similar or in your product category. If you find any, there could be some valuable data for your research. The company or entrepreneur could be a valuable resource for you in the future. Did the campaign reach its goal or not. Search for any public comments.
Tradeshows are a great source of information to learn about your product category and the industry. Attending a trade show usually requires some form of travel and hotel. For some people it can be a costly expense. However, this is a step highly recommended and worth the cost if you attend the best industry show. If you need help identifying the best show, reach out to our team on the contact us page.
- You will have the opportunity to meet and network with other inventors who have licensed or manufactured products.
- You can also connect with decision-makers at companies that license products.
- Many tradeshows offer a lot of educational seminars about the industry.
- Most shows have networking events after the show
- You will learn about industry trends and so much more
- Some trade shows have new product or inventor sections where you can meet and network with other inventors and startups
Trade & Industry Magazine
There is usually an association or trade group for most industries along with an industry or trade magazine. Find these associations and magazines. They will offer valuable data about the industry with upcoming products and trends.
Intellectual Property Protection Basics
Whether you decide to license your product or venture it, having patent protection is vital. Having a prototype before meeting with an attorney is helpful. If you need help finding an honest attorney, we have one for you.
Types Of Intellectual Property
There are 4 types of intellectual property:
1- Patent 3- Copyright
2- Trademark 4- Trade Secret
What Is A Patent?
A legal license that protects inventors and their inventions from being used by anyone else. It gives the inventor the exclusive right to produce, use and sell for a period of 20 years.
What Is A Trademark?
It is a designation of a good, or service, used to notify a customer or potential customer of precisely what good or service they can expect to receive when they see that mark associated with its sale or advertisement.
What Is A Copyright?
It’s the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
What Is A Trade Secret?
It protects any proprietary methods or formulae of a company or an individual that have immediate, economic value to competitors.
Types Of Patents
There are 3 types of patents:
1- Design 3- Plant
A Design Patent
Legal protection is granted to the ornamental design of a functional item.
A Utility Patent
It protects the way an article is used and works. More focused on functionalty.
A Plant Patent
Protection is granted to an individual who has invented or discovered and sexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plants, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.
Provisional Patent Application (PPA)
Is a document issued by the U.S. patent and trademark office (USPTO) that helps protect a new invention from being copied during the 12-month period before a formal patent application, called a non-provisional is filed.
International Patent, P.C.T.
Patent Cooperation Treaty is an international treaty that makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in a large number of countries by filing a single “international” patent application instead of filing several separate national or regional patent applications.
Best Time To File A PPA
Filing a provisional patent application too soon can hurt you. Make sure you have already done most of your market research and have found no product like your idea on the market and you have already lined up companies to talk to regarding licensing and/or producing. Speak to a patent attorney about this. If your PPA is coming to its expiration date (12 months) there is a strategy to reapply for another PPA, but speak to a patent attorney about how to do it without jeopardizing your idea.
Inter Parties Review
I.P.R. is a proceeding before the United States Patent Trademark Office, USPTO, in which a third party has alleged invalidity of at least one claim of an issued patent. To learn more about this threat to inventors and issued patent holders, visit and subscribe to U.S. Inventor, www.usinventor.org
Patent Trial And Appeal Board
P.T.A.B. conducts trials, including I.P.R.’s, post-grant, and covered business method patent reviews and derivation proceedings, hears appeals from adverse examiner decisions in patent applications and reexamination proceedings, and renders decisions in interferences. More info. click here.
Is an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing patent applications and oppositions to granted patents. They can give legal advice and help with licensing agreements.
A patent agent, also known as a patent practitioner, is a professional licensed by the United States Patent Trademark Office, USPTO to advise on and assist inventors with patent applications. Unlike a patent attorney, a patent agent is not a lawyer and cannot provide any legal advice, including advice on patent licensing or patent infringement.
Choose Your Attorney Wisely
Don’t rush to hire an attorney. Hiring an attorney is like bringing on a business partner. Move slowly and try to find one that comes recommended from an inventor who had a positive outcome similar to the outcome you are expecting. That outcome should be getting a granted patent for a reasonable price. Lots of patent attorneys are using fraudulent tactics to run up their client’s costs. Choose WISELY.
Attorney Red Flags
Some key red flags to look out for:
1- Upfront retainer fee.
2- No clients who have received a granted patent in the last 12 months.
3- Can’t give you a ballpark estimate of what your costs may be.
4- Not willing to share references.
5- Unfavorable reviews online.
6- Any claims they can get you a patent.
7- You are asked to sign over rights to your invention.
8- They claim to have insider contacts to expedite your patent or help get a licensing deal.
9- Tells you a patent search isn’t important.
10- The attorney offers to buy out the original patent holder.
Recommended Patent Attorney
Now it’s time to bring the idea to life showing how it works and proving functionality. Always best practice finding a provider thru a personal referral if possible. If you need help, let us know.
What Is A Prototype?
A first model of a physical product, from which other forms are developed or copied. It could be functional or nonfunctional.
Before start building a prototype, you want to draw some basic sketches. Think about what materials the product will be made of. Will it be one piece or multiple pieces? Will it need batteries, magnets, or any other special parts to complete it?
Computer Aided Drawing (CAD)
Today, finding a 3D CAD developer isn’t very hard. And one document you will want to get familiar with is an NDA. It will protect you and your idea from being shared with others. CAD creation will help make certain your product can be produced with the necessary functionality. It can help you decide on base materials, and help calculate a base estimated cost. Also known as a 3D model.
Types Of Prototypes
3- Looks-like & works-like
Is a prototype that focuses on the exterior of your product which will be made of plastic or metal.
Is a prototype focused on showing that the internal electronics or mechanical components work properly.
Looks-Like & Works-Like Prototype
It’s the first time that appearance and functionality come together in a single prototype.
Using computer-aided design software to design a looks-like prototype before committing to making a physical prototype.
Testing the functionality of the prototype to make sure it works exactly how you need it to function. 99.9% of prototypes need some sort of correction when first prototyped. Focus on the key function(s). Don’t fall into feature creep syndrome. Focus on MVP, minimum viable product. Get it out into the marketplace working as you envisioned to solve a problem or fill a consumer gap that no other product was solving. Make the necessary corrections to the prototype, then test again. Repeat until you correct any issue(s) and get your CADS updated and ready for production. It typically takes 3 cycles of prototyping and testing before going to market with a product that has lots of moving parts and functions. Could be quicker with a less complicated product. Having the right team also plays a factor.
Tech Pak Prepared
Your tech pack is a document(s) containing all the technical information about your product. It explains every detail including all part(s) and materials of your product. It could be a combination of documents and CADS.
In some cases, you can prototype simple parts yourself. Click here.