Got an Innovation Idea? Beware of These Pitfalls

So you have an idea that you believe could become the next big thing. Here are some potential pitfalls to avoid while trying to bring your idea to market. Identifying these common mistakes early on can help increase your chances of developing a successful business around your product:

1. Having Unrealistic Expectations.

Many people think that inventing is a way to get rich quick. Although there can be significant monetary rewards, the reality is, it can take a lot of hard work, time and money to get a product to market. To make an invention successful, a business must be built around the product or, it needs to be sold to another company. Either option takes a lot of leg work. Many first time inventors do not anticipate the amount of work needed to get a product off the ground. Many times, they think that they have done their part by dreaming up a solution to a problem and that others will gladly throw money at them to be part of that dream. A new inventor should assess their motivation, resources and financial goals closely.

2. Failing to Research Your Market.

Before you go and spend time and money developing your product, make sure there are no other similar products already on the market. Taking extra time to research your market can save from wasting a lot of time and money on developing a product that already exists. Search online using numerous keywords, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office, look at relevant stores that might sell a similar product. If you do find a similar product, decide if yours has enough features or a different enough design to make it worth the effort of developing it. If not, you may want to move on to another idea.

3. Spending Too Much Time and Money on Patents.

Only about 3% of patented items make it to market and make money. Many inventors think that filing for, and securing a patent should be their first step; this is usually not the case. The importance of a patent is often overrated. It is also extremely costly. You do not need to patent your product in order to bring it to market but, you do need to make sure your product does not violate current patents. If you think a patent is needed, a professional patent agent or attorney should be consulted to see what kind of value it can bring to your project.

4. Failure to Keep Proper Records.

Since our patent office is now based on a “first inventor to file” system, having good records showing you were the first to invent something will be of little help in a patent dispute. Because of this change, many think that detailed record keeping is no longer essential. The fact is, documentation is still crucial when dealing with IP management and is good practice. A well kept notebook provides a reliable reference for data analysis, recognizing key dates, fund allotment, etc. Get a bound notebook. Use consecutive pages. Date entries. Explain diagrams. Have it signed by witnesses and stamped by a notary public on a frequent basis. Having a well kept record of activity can be a big help to patent attorneys/agents when preparing patent applications.

5. Not Getting the Right Kind of Feedback.

Just because your friends and family think your idea is great, does not mean it is. Friends and relatives are generally biased. They want to see you succeed. Just because they say they would buy your product does not mean others will. Get unbiased opinions. There are several places (including some schools) across the country that will evaluate your invention against a set criteria.

If you do not use a third party evaluating service, then it is important to look at your idea objectively. This can be hard to do. Third parties are usually a better option but, if you rather tackle this yourself, there are online resources that can help. See: http://www.uspatentlaw.com/evaluation.htm.

Seeing your idea come to life can be an extremely rewarding experience. Getting to that point will take a lot of hard work. Do your research, keep good records during your journey and use the resources that are available to you. With some hard work and maybe even a bit of luck, your idea might just become the next big thing.

As always, thanks for reading! Please contact us if you are ready to bring your next big idea to life.