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Learning About Invention Assessment & Why it's Invaluable
Remember reading or hearing about Thomas Edison's statement that if something won't sell; he didn't want to invent it? There may be some validity to that idea, but many may also disagree with his philosophy. Many things in the world can be invented and may be of value to the world but won't sell. This doesn't mean; however, that they're not important.
Although only a small percentage of patents actually make the inventor money, it is possible to make money from your ideas and inventions. Here are some important tips on patenting your invention with the intent of making money.
Patenting your invention is going to cost money. You can try to patent it yourself without the help of a professional. Although you're saving some money, you're also taking a risk. To avoid wasting money patenting your invention, if your intent is to make money, you can do a market evaluation or invention assessment to determine if your invention has a good chance of making you money.
What is an Invention Assessment?
An invention assessment is a type of market research, which will help to determine:
Will anyone purchase your product?
- How large is your potential market?
- Can the product be made at the right price?
- Will your invention be a desirable product once you get it patented?
- Will your product stay desirable long enough to make a good profit?
- What will it cost to market the product?
- What are the steps to selling the product?
- How much competition is there for this type of product?
An invention assessment is one part of the patent process that you should never try to eliminate as it can save you both money and time. You can find professionals that will do this at a reasonable price. Use good judgment when dealing with companies that also provide marketing and developing services, as it may not be in your best interest. Because they can offer you manufacturing, patenting and marketing skills and make money from you, they are probably not going to tell you your product won't sell. Watch out for companies that may have a conflict of interest.
For Those on a Budget
If you really feel your invention has commercial potential, but you are on a tight budget and cannot fit a professional assessment into your budget, here are some tips for finding free or discount assessments or resources to help with a self-assessment.
- Retired business executives in your area (Score.org)
- Local colleges and universities – business schools may be particularly helpful
- Local government agencies may be able to provide you with contacts or advice
- Small Business Administration
- Local inventors club may have tips
- Local distributors that carry products similar to yours
- Check out Invention Assessment and Marketability Evaluation for further help and information
Don't Forget Non-Disclosure Agreements
Make sure than anyone that assesses your product signs a non-disclosure agreement if you don't have any protection for your intellectual property. Remember the deadline you have for filing for a patent? It will begin as soon as you start providing the public with any disclosure information. Keep in mind, also, the condition of novelty rules.
Once they've signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement with you, you can feel safe discussing your product with them. Otherwise, if you're trying to research it, you may discuss it in general terms without revealing anything specific about your product. Be very selective with who you have sign your confidentiality agreements. It's a good idea to only use your potential service provider. However, confidentiality agreements are no longer necessary once you have or have filed for a patent or provisional patent.
Conflicts of Interest – Avoid Them
Another important thing to remember is do not use the same firm that's patenting your product (or wants to patent it) to do your assessment. If they have plans of potentially making money off the marketing or filing of your product, they're not going to be able to give you an unbiased opinion. If you do get a negative assessment, don't waste any more money. Begin working on a new idea.
Once you've learned that you will be able to get a patent for your invention and that it's worth the money to do so, you next step is applying for a patent. Although some inventors may consider selling or marketing their invention before getting a patent, it's important to know the process of applying for a patent.