By: Dan Miller

We get a lot of questions regarding inventions: Where do I start? How can I sell my idea? Is it legal? How can I know that I am not infringing on someone else’s patent? Do I need a patent?

While we cannot address all these questions here, let me get you started. If an invention is going to make money, it must be more than just a good idea. Store shelves are already filled to capacity, so a new product must be outstanding to attract customer’s attention. Watchdog agencies like the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, OSHA, and the Underwriter’s Laboratory are watching to make sure any new product conforms to local, state, and federal laws. Does your product have safety concerns?

Know your potential customers. Is the market for your product growing or shrinking. A few years ago a lady started mixing flour and clear finger nail polish. Four years later she sold that company to the Gillette company for $42 Million dollars. Today the market for Liquid Paper or White Out is shrinking, not growing.

Do you need a Patent? Many people waste time and money pursuing a patent, convinced that if they can get a patent, they will be rich. No, you can get a patent on anything that has not be patented before. Thus, you could get a patent on square wooden wheels, but I doubt that anyone would want to BUY them. A patent here does not protect you from someone in Taiwan duplicating what you have done and selling it here. Many times it is wiser to spend your time developing your MARKETING plan rather than protecting your idea.

To check out trademarks, patents and copyrights, you can go to: This is the official government site and you can do your research right here.

Another helpful site is:
Here you can register your idea or product and have some record that you did in fact have this idea as of this date.

Check this site for the Inventors Workshop International. Information and counseling is provided to individual inventors:

Be careful of Independent Product Developers (IDPs) Many will lead you down the rosy red path telling you your idea is the greatest thing since peanut butter when all they are doing is extracting your dollars.

For a complete overview of how to turn an idea into a business, see 48 DAYS TO CREATIVE INCOME.


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