You have put the finishing touches on your invention, idea, or innovation and you are ready to send it out for feedback. Before you do so, is it a good idea to obtain patent protection for your product? In almost every case, the answer is affirmative. You cannot go wrong by protecting yourself and your idea. While there are many legitimate businesses and invention assistance companies that will keep your ideas confidential, some won’t—and are quite open about their ability to take your idea or share it with others.  If you want to keep your idea your own, seek protection before you begin the submission process.

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There are however a number of invention assistance companies and businesses with whom you can enter into a confidentiality agreement. In the case of many of these companies, their job is to help you sell your product, not to produce the product themselves. They are not in the game to take your ideas and sell them but afford you the best submission assistance possible.

It is suggested that you contact local Better Bureau offices to find out more about a company before you begin a business relationship. You might also do a web search to see what the general feeling is about a company, but remember this: More people complain about bad service than they talk about good service. For every dissatisfied consumer (or in this case, inventor), there might be a dozen or more happy people.  Take what you read with a grain of salt.

Read thoroughly the literature and contracts provided to you. An invention submission assistance company should have nothing to hide (and every reason to be candid). If you have a question, ask. Don’t move forward until you are satisfied that you understand the services to be provided and, most certainly, whether or not your idea will be kept confidential.  Protect yourself, for no one is going to do it for you.
For every problem, there is a solution. The question is, How good of a solution exists? There are always ways to improve upon a process, to make it faster, more efficient, and all around better.  The trick is finding this better way, which is where new inventions and products come into play.

An invention does not exist in a void. It is created and crafted to solve a specific problem. How do you know if your new product will succeed? Asking yourself some simple questions will bring you closer to an answer.

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What problem does you product solve? There may be others who face the same frustrations as you and for whom your invention might be a Godsend. Is your product easy to use? Never so true has been the old acronym K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, silly!): Who wants to replace one difficult process with another? To whom could your product be marketed? Are you looking at something that could help the masses or only a small portion of the population. Remember, small is not bad. The key is figuring out what need the product solves and creating a piece that fits that need simply and easily. Build it, and they will come.

What problem have you solved today?
I am, by nature, a Do-It-Yourself type of girl. I like to put together my daughter’s toys, paint walls, cut hedges, and trim my hair. The problem is that I’m not very good at it, as several years of photographs with crooked bangs and ugly hedges will attest. But I’ll just keep trying—because it’s what I do.

Even as a gung-ho DIY-er, there are certain areas in which I know I need help. I cannot fix a car, nor can I figure out stocks and bonds. How To Patent An Idea  I can’t fix my slate roof, and my attempts at landscaping have been failures. Sometimes I just need the help of a professional.

As an inventor, I faced a similar dilemma. Do I self-apply for a product patent or do I get professional help? I’m a smart person, I thought; if I can handle TurboTax, certainly I can handle filling out some forms from the Patent Office.

Boy, was I wrong. Here’s the difference between TurboTax and the Patent and Trademark office. The former is a program and has built into it fact and accuracy checkers. When I mess up, TurboTax gentle takes my hand and walks me through the income tax forms until I find and correct my mistake. My forms from the patent office gave me no such assistance.

Why is this a big deal? There are neither “Back” nor “Undo” buttons on these forms. Once you have submitted your information to the Patent Office, you cannot add new material. Did I forget to mention one of the most compelling features of my invention on the form, that little tweak that makes it superior to similar products on the market, the piece that would push the idea over the edge towards a big “APPROVED” stamp from the Office? That’s too bad, because I can’t add it on later.

In fact, if I do not submit the form exactly right, it might be rejected. To fix it, I have to start all over and pay a second filing fee. This costs me time and money and may even allow someone else to register an idea similar to mine before I am able.

All because I think I can cut my own hair.

Be smart. Know what you can do yourself and when you need outside help. There are patent attorneys available to help you with this paperwork. Whether you have a professional look over your work or do the entire job from scratch, it is simply too important, timely, and costly to leave to chance.
The widespread use of social media has lead our society to believe that sharing is good. We talk about our families, our hobbies, our jobs, our favorite songs.  We describe our dinners, the clothes we bought, the weather in our city. And we certainly talk way too much about things that should remain private.

Do you utilize social media to stay in touch with friends, family, and other professionals in your field? If you do, have you shared information about your new production or invention? What has the reaction been?

I’d like you to consider that sharing information about your invention might be something from which you wish to steer. The reasons are both practical and emotional.

You have created a new product, one that might be derivative of something already on the market or something brand new and revolutionary. In either case, what is yours, is yours. You cannot assume that everyone with whom you share your idea is going to keep it confidential. You cannot even trust that someone will not take the idea as his or her own and attempt to sell it to the highest bidder. Before you open your mouth or share pictures of your blueprints on Facebook, protect yourself. Talk to a lawyer about patent protection and confidentiality agreements. Keep the nuts and bolts of your plans to yourself. If you are working with partners, get in writing who is responsible for what. This is business, and it’s serious, and it should be treated as such.

Now for the not-so-serious: Do your feelings get hurt?  New Invention Ideas   Will you be sad if someone who doesn’t understand your idea nay-says it? Imagine, if you will, the caveman who invented the wheel, and the laughter it brought to his cave-friends. More recently, think about the person who created the baseball cap to which you could attach and drink from cans of beer. How ridiculous he must have looked to some people! But both our caveman and our recreational beverage lover knew they had a good thing, and they were not discouraged. Unless you are confident you can keep the faith among negative feedback, it’s better to keep a closed mouth.

When it comes to Sharing, keep it focused on animals and kids and make your new product ideas off limits.


    I am fascinated with anything to do with technology, inventions, and science! =)


    April 2013