This is a guest post by Jason Mitchell. He’s an engineer and the owner of Jaybird Engineering LLC
Just some thoughts for potential inventors.
1) Don’t post your idea online, it could count as “public disclosure” which basically starts the clock on how long you have to patent your idea if you choose to.
2) If you want to discuss your idea with someone without patent protection, make them sign a Non-disclosure agreement, it keeps that clock I mentioned from starting and obligates the person you are telling your idea to, not to share it.
3) Be very careful with companies out there that will take your idea, build you a prototype, manufacture it, and license it to Walmart or anywhere else…The basic idea behind some of these companies is lets say for example they get 1000 people contacting them with ideas per month,they “accept” 100 of those people to work with, charge each of them outrageous fees (around $15,000 or so depending on the idea), and then perhaps 1 of those people will actually get a license deal (which means royalty money). Thats great if you are that one person, but I’d be upset to be one of the other 99.
4) Consider taking your product the whole 9 yards, I know when you’re sitting in idea stage you just want to get it made and make some money, but there are alot of hoops to jump through and dead ends to watch out for. If you remain in control of your product and learn each stage as you go…build it, protect it, market it, sell it…you can actually get going for alot less money than you might think.
5) Don’t jump from idea to patent, as long as its a new idea its not hard to get a patent, the hard part is selling your product or idea. I would recommend taking an idea first to design, then to building a prototype, and then to getting a provisional patent (do it yourself, few hundred dollars). A provisional patent gives you 1 year of “patent pending” status where your place in line at the patent office is essentially held for that particular idea…at the end of 1 year you must choose to either fully patent (several thousand dollars) or let it become public.
Those are just a few of my thoughts…in the end what matters is what you think the best path is…research research research…you can look at my website at www.jaybirdengineering.com or also www.asktheinventors.com has a lot of good information for potential inventors.
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