10 Tips For Inventors
Created by FindLaw's team
of legal writers and editors.
You don't have to be Alexander Graham Bell or Benjamin Franklin to call yourself an inventor. Today, anyone with a brilliant idea and some perseverance can invent an amazing product or life-saving tool. The question is, what should you do once you create a first-rate invention. Get a patent? Fear not. Follow along as FindLaw provides you with ten tips to think about if you are an inventor.
Tips and Strategies for your Invention
- When brilliance strikes and you come up with a great idea, create a record of invention before going any further with it. The record of invention should be written in ink and should include:
- a clear description of the idea,
- the date,
- your signature, and
- the signatures of two people you trust who have "witnessed and understood" your invention and the dates they sign.
- Build a prototype as soon as you can to transform the idea into a physical object.
- Be discreet. Do not talk about your invention with people who are not bound by a confidentiality agreement.
- Keep good, complete, and accurate written records, including:
- Don't do too much work on your invention until you get a good idea of whether it will sell well.
- A suggested rule of thumb to determine whether your invention will sell well is that the total sales will be at least twenty times the cost of inventing and patenting it.
- Include in your cost calculation the cost of filing fees, hiring a lawyer to help with your patent filing, and the person who prepares the drawings of your creation.
- Assess whether you will be able to get a patent on your invention. Answer the following questions:
- Is your invention novel?
- What is the prior art?
- If you are improving on something that has already been patented, is your invention a new physical feature, a combination of prior separate features, or a new use of a prior feature?
- If you are improving something that has already been patented, is your invention not obvious?
- Does your invention produce a new and unexpected result?
- Does your invention fall into one of the five classes of items that may be patentable? That is, is it a process, machine, an "article of manufacture," "compositions of matter," or a new use of any of those items?
- Do a patent search.
- Keep a file for your invention that contains items and information you and your lawyer will need while you prepare your patent application.
- Start exploring and thinking about how you will market your invention.
- Work with an experienced lawyer who is licensed by the Patent and Trademark Office and does patent work for a living.
Get Help from a Legal Professional
As an inventor, you would likely rather spend your time perfecting your new invention or idea. Leave the legal hassles to a skilled business and commercial law attorney who specializes in patent law. A lawyer in your area can help make sure you file the correct forms and work with the Patent and Trademark office on your behalf.