Craske & Co.
patent attorneys since 1982


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Guidance for Inventors

We receive numerous calls from people who have thought of an idea for a product and want to know what to do next. 

Solo speed clampAlthough you will understandably be keen to protect your idea, the establishment of intellectual property can be costly, and there are things you can do to make sure you are not wasting your money.  

Most ideas fail because they have not been researched or because the inventor lacks sufficient funds or development facilities.  Your chances of selling an "idea" are pretty small.  Most companies have no shortage of ideas for possible research and development.  On the other hand, novel products with good market potential are quite rare. 

Here are ten steps to follow:

1. Keep it confidential
If you disclose your idea too early you are in danger of giving it away.  Public disclosure will destroy any chance of protecting it, but don't be paranoid. Discussing an idea with a family member, a patent agent, an accountant or your bank manager are not "public disclosures", but offering the idea to a manufacturer, publishing it in the press or putting it on display in a public place are definitely out. If you must disclose your invention to anyone who does not owe you a duty of confidentiality get then to sign a confidentiality undertaking.  Here is a simple document which you can download.

2. Check whether it is really new
Are there are any similar products on the internet? Look at relevant trade publications and catalogues.  You could pay a patent attorney to conduct a novelty assessment.  Although this is not cheap it could save you time and money re-inventing the wheel.

TIP: You can conduct patent searches on the Esp@cenet web site.

3. Research your market
How many people are likely to buy it?  High volume low price products might produce a good profit.  Low volume products might still have potential but they would probably need a high profit margin to be viable. What price will the market sustain?

4. Working model
You need to make sure that your idea will actually achieve what you want.  This needn't be too elaborate, but if you can't make it work you might be wasting your time. 

5. Prepare drawings and notes
Although patent attorneys are very skilled at putting an inventive concept into words they are required to describe at least one practical embodiment in some detail.  Good clear drawings are usually essential, although they need not necessarily be of draughtsman quality. Check out the "Patents" link on the left.

6. Do you have a name for it?
If you have thought of a good name you can ask your patent agent about registering it as a trade mark. Check out the "Trade Marks" link on the left.

7. Protect it  
You should now be in a position to consult a patent attorney about protecting your intellectual property.  Once any patent or design applications have been filed you are free to disclose the idea to the general public.

8. Produce a prototype 
At this stage it is useful to see a professional design consultant.  Your model might have proved that the idea works in principle, but can it be manufactured at an acceptable price?  Design consultants will be able to refine the design and iron out any bugs, remove potential manufacturing snags and maybe reduce the manufacturing cost.  Once you know how the product will be made you can update your patent or design application if necessary, and work out detailed manufacturing costs.

9. Field Testing
Consider giving away free samples for people to try out.  If you can find a well known personality or an acknowledged expert who is prepared to endorse the product this will greatly increase its credibility.  They might also flag up any practical problems that you have not considered previously.

10. Approach potential manufacturers
Armed with a neat working prototype, market reports, detailed costings and endorsements you can now contact potential manufacturers without fear of wasting their time. There is no guarantee that anyone will want to buy your package, but at least you will have given yourself the best chance of getting your idea to market.

Good luck!


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Craske & Co., 2006

Last updated: 27 December 2010