Preliminary Patent Search

You can do a preliminary patent search on your own for free.Search for patents at Google and also search at US Gov site.


Evaluate If Your Product is Worth Pursuing

Four things you need to weigh to determine if your product is worth pursuing.

Is your idea feasible to create based upon your abilities? If you believe that you can do most of the work associated with your invention then you are in good shape. Just remember that even though most inventors do get help, you still need to do most of the work by yourself.

Can it be produced profitably? You will not be able to know your exact costs, but consider the materials you want to use, the complexity of construction and the type of packaging you will need. If you think your costs will be pretty high and you will be competing with relatively low-cost products, your idea will probably not be worth pursuing. There are exceptions to this rule, like if your product is significantly better than competition or you are targeting high-end stores and consumers, but usually this rule holds true.

Is there significant competition? A product is always easier to introduce if there is either very little or no competition. More competition generally means lower profits and tougher sales.

Does your product make people say, “Wow”? If people are amazed when they hear about your product, then you should pursue your idea. I call this the “wow” factor and this can make up for deficiencies in any of the three areas above. This is perhaps the most important part of evaluating your idea.

Start an Inventor’s Notebook Prior to patenting your idea, you should fill out a properly documented inventor’s notebook. While this is not patent protection, you can document when you created your idea and what has been involved in your inventing process. That way, if someone tries to patent an idea similar to yours, you can establish that you came up with the idea first. At this point, you will not be ready to apply for a patent since your product will probably go through many changes before you finalize your product design. By prematurely applying for a patent, your own product changes may invalidate your patent protection. In the United States, the patent system awards patents to the first person to invent the product, unlike the rest of the world where the first person to file is awarded the patent. This means, for US inventors, that it is not a race to get a patent, but it is better to wait until you know your final product design and have the funding to afford good patent lawyers.

Just remember, once your product is publicly disclosed, you must apply for a patent within a year or your will lose your rights to a patent. To create an inventor’s notebook,

  1. Buy a bound notebook with numbered pages
  2. Enter all of your activities, drawings, ideas and even conversations regarding your invention.
  3. Enter everything sequentially and date every entry.
  4. Every week have one or two witnesses, who are not close relatives or have a financial interest in your invention, read your new pages
  5. Write “The above information is confidential. I have read and understood this page.” Them have them sign and date the page.