You don’t need to be a genius to generate new invention ideas. But, what exactly does it take for you to come up with a singular creation? Invention can’t necessarily be caught in a bottle, but there are ways to set yourself up for success. Researching, observation, brainstorming–all of this can help. On top of all that, being ready to strike when the iron is hot is an invaluable sense.
If you want to create a new product, your ability to develop, exploit, execute and protect viable ideas gives you a competitive edge. Coming up with an original idea that will disrupt the market requires a fresh mind and fresh thinking. Here are actionable tips to help jumpstart those creative juices.
1. Observe Your Environment
When you start with an entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll have a different perspective on the ordinary things all around you. Gaining observation skills allows you to learn, recall, and understand your immediate environment.
Typically, your aim can be to identify a market gap, improve the existing options, or bring an idea or concept from one industry to a new one. A good idea satisfies a need, want, or fixes a problem. The trick is to see the need and come up with a creative solution that bests fits it. Take the time to listen to what customers are saying about other products or services. If possible, let them share the problems they face every day and see if there is something that you can do about it.
2. Find Your Niche
When starting out, specialization is a more effective tool than targeting different markets. Find a market that you understand well so that you can come up with good ideas within it. This allows you to engage with things you’re familiar with, learn their flaws, and develop improvements.
Note down the fields you know well and are passionate about. Focus on your passions, interests, and hobbies will naturally generate the perseverance required to succeed. Determine the profitability and viability of your niche. Research the competition and weigh the market size to see what’s missing. Once you’ve defined your niche, you can start digging deeper to find areas you can improve or replace with something new and better.
3. Determine Problems
Are you good at anticipating problems before they occur? Do you have a keen eye for identifying problems that other people can’t see? This can be a valuable skill to help you come up with great invention ideas. Take the time to distinguish things that are not perfect or up to par in your niche. Listen to what people complain about or the things that bother them most. Even those trivial complaints and issues can be great for generating new ideas.
Create a list of the common problems in your niche and see if you can create one solution for multiple problems. Your idea should be effective and inexpensive for your target customers.
4. Timing Is Important
When it comes to idea generation, time is a major factor that can help to validate the viability of your idea. Products and ideas get phased out over time, and the last thing you want is to create a short-term idea.
Startups are known to fail due to inadequate funds and poor marketing, and worst of all, poor timing. Creativity and motivation can give you all you need to come up with an idea. But, ask yourself, is it the appropriate time to launch your idea? The last thing you want is to create a product that works, but people aren’t ready for (here’s looking at you, Google Glass). You’re the only person responsible for making it succeed.
5. Connect the Dots
Idea generation depends on your ability to determine the relationship between two or more different things. When certain factors are connected, they can give a clear view of your idea and its viability in the market.
If you’re creating one solution for many problems, you want to take the time to determine the relationship between the problems. It’s all about identifying the connection points! Come up with a hypothesis that will allow you to develop those connections.
6. Test the Idea
Now, you have thing idea for the next big thing, but you’re not sure if it’s going to work. In this scenario, it helps to test it. And, this should come first, before building a business plan or getting a trademark for your idea.
Build a minimum viable product (MVP), which is the simplest form of your product that you can sell. Having an MVP version of your product idea is important during the development process. This allows you to make changes and tweaks based on the feedback you get.
You can give people the product for free and let them provide their opinion after using it for a while. Or, create a test group and ask the people to assess your idea.
7. Tweak Your Idea
At this point, you have enough feedback from the product test to help you fine-tune your idea. List out all the things that people were frustrated about and find an effective fix for each.
The way you see your idea is not how everyone sees it. Your idea can be a good start, but it may need tweaking to get it ready it for the market. Also, bear in mind that you don’t need to address all the problems that your detractors pointed out. Focus on addressing the big issues.
8. Is It a Good Idea?
After all these steps, it all comes down to you. Do you believe in the idea? What’s the future like for your idea? Are you committed? Some ideas will be profitable while others will fail. Learn to drop an idea before you waste your time, energy, and money. Determine if your idea will be a remarkable option among the several choices available in the market.
If it’s the idea you believe is going to disrupt the market, don’t forget to patent it.
Invention Ideas – The Takeaway
Creating viable ideas for a business can be a time-consuming and frustrating process that requires time and due diligence. If you want to generate new invention ideas, be sure to take the time to reflect on your goals and limitations.
Many inventions take years to achieve fruition. Be patient and work diligently to ensure your idea becomes a reality. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people about your idea to get a sense of how you feel.
And when you’re ready to start the patent process, we’re here for you.
So you’ve worked long and hard, burning the midnight oil as they say, and you’ve come up with a fascinating and useful idea of your own. Something humanity hasn’t quite seen before, a product of not just your vision but your dedication.
First of all, congratulations! These days everyone thinks they’re an entrepreneur, and original ideas are rare.
But it’s for that exact reason that you need to be more careful than ever. Whatever you’ve come up with — a new app, something handy for around the house, or a concept that’ll increase productivity business or science — your idea is precious.
And like a lot of precious things, it can be stolen.
You need to prepare yourself before you do business, and the best way to do that is by getting a patent.
Patent Infringement: It Can Happen to You
600,000 patents were applied for in 2015, and that’s in the US alone. Half of the applications were granted. Any one of these could be beating you to the punch.
Think it can’t happen? Guess again. 6,000 patent infringement lawsuits were filed that same year.
Like any other major move in your life, there’s a little bit of preparation involved in preparing for possible patent infringement.
Knowing your rights is imperative. Here are the steps to protecting your invention or idea, from initial preparation to your last resort.
Keep Things Low-Key
Now that you’ve come up with something that you’re pretty sure is original, don’t rush to tell the world.
Many famous ideas throughout history have been stolen by some of our more famous “inventors.” So be smart!
If you’ve got partners, whether in development or investment, make sure they sign non-disclosure agreements. Get legal help with this if necessary, because you can’t be too detailed or too careful. Your patent is not going to arrive overnight.
Keep news of this breakthrough on a need-to-know basis, even among friends and family.
Watch the Clock
That having been said, you need to go ahead and file for a patent as soon as you can.
US law says you only have one year after making your idea public to file for a patent; after that time, your intellectual property’s up for grabs.
Know the difference between a patent, which protects an invention or a method, a copyright, which protects creative content, and a trademark, which protects the name you do business under or the name of a product.
A good example: if you invent an app, you need a patent for it. The content in the app, however, is what needs to be copyrighted. The name of that app is what you would trademark.
Get the patent first.
Know the Law
Filing a patent costs money in the US, and it doesn’t protect you everywhere; for that, you’ll need a second foreign patent, which you should also file as soon as possible.
Most inventors who lose the right to their intellectual property do so because they neglected to file a foreign patent. You will probably have to get a license from the government before you can do that.
Patents need to be renewed at certain intervals, too, through three and a half to 11.5 years out.
Get an Expert
Again, you want to get a lawyer to file all of this paperwork. There’s nothing that those “invention services” can do for you that a good patent lawyer can’t.
There’s no reason not to have one along for every step of the process, and it will save a lot of time if you do need to file a patent infringement lawsuit in the future.
Be on the Lookout
Make sure and scour the internet as well as any trade publications in your area of business to see if anyone else has had the same idea as you.
It’s entirely possible. And the patent that you get won’t automatically stop anybody from trying to steal your idea; it’ll just give you legal recourse if they do.
You have to do most of the policing yourself.
Make the Contact
If you find that someone has marketed your idea or product after your patent date, don’t go straight to the lawsuit.
Lawsuits are always a last resort.
Make contact with the entity in question and let them know that you have a patent for that same idea. Make sure and do it through certified mail, so that there’s a record of the contact being made.
Cease and Desist
If for some reason they ignore your contact or dispute it, a cease-and-desist order is the next step.
You definitely want a lawyer to draw this one up; it serves as a legal notice that someone is making a claim on your intellectual property.
Get an Injunction
If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to get a court-ordered injunction, which will stop them temporarily from profiting off of your idea.
It will not, however, serve as a legal judgment in your favor. For that, you’ll need to go ahead and file a lawsuit.
At this time, you can also have a patent attorney issue an opinion letter, which leads extra weight to your argument.
File a Lawsuit
As a last resort, filing a lawsuit for patent infringement will force a resolution. (Remember: you can’t file a patent infringement lawsuit in a country where you don’t have a patent!)
You’ll be appealing to a federal district court to make the decision. The patent office only issues patents and has no legal jurisdiction whatsoever. Get a lawyer to go to bat for you.
It’s also good to remember that filing a lawsuit is going to cost you some money as well — for your lawyer as well as court costs. But the amount you may be awarded will be larger than if it was settled out of court.
You can ask for damages as well as court costs, profits that were lost as a result of the infringement, and statutory damages.
Get Started Now!
As you can see patent infringement protection is a long and complicated process with many steps.
The common thread running through all of them is legal representation.
The first person you should tell about your amazing new idea or invention is a patent lawyer. Get a consultation today — the legal process should start as soon as possible.
And as ingenious as you may be, it’s best to leave this one to the experts.