How to Proceed With an Invention or Idea

It’s a long road from having a good idea for an invention to making money from a patented product. You must first turn your idea into a concrete invention with specifications and claims that will convince a patent examiner to approve your patent application. You then must create marketing materials and locate potential licensees. Finally, you must negotiate license agreements that will provide you with royalty income.

    Reduce your invention idea to specifics. You will need specifications and diagrams, as well as legal claims as to the novelty, usefulness and originality of your invention. Your legal claims should be prepared by an experienced patent attorney.

    File an international patent application with the International Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland, which is responsible for performing preliminary patent examinations under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The International Bureau only performs preliminary examinations and does not issue patents. However, having the International Bureau perform the preliminary examination will greatly assist your efforts to obtain multinational or worldwide patent protection.

    As soon as the International Bureau completes its preliminary examination, file for patent protection in each country in which you desire it. The patent approval process will be expedited due to the completion of preliminary examination procedures, and your patent application filing date with the International Bureau will apply to every PCT signatory nation that you submit a patent application to (most nations in the world).

    Create a prototype of your invention and have the manufacturer estimate the cost to mass produce it.

    Create a multimedia marketing presentation that identifies a problem, and shows how your invention can solve the problem efficiently and cost-effectively.

    Determine whether you want to grant one exclusive license or several non-exclusive licenses. Although you can make money either way, most inventors prefer to grant several non-exclusive licenses.

    Search for potential licensees through trade association directories and contacts supplied by well-connected patent law firms. Give marketing presentations to these companies and offer to commence licensing negotiations.

    Negotiate a patent license agreement, have it drafted with the assistance of an attorney and sign it together with your licensee. Be sure to negotiate a minimum monthly or quarterly royalty (regardless of sales), in order to give your licensee an extra incentive to exploit your invention.

Tips & Warnings

  • U.S. patent law differs from the patent law of other nations because it is based on the “first to invent” system rather than the “first to file” system. This means that if you invent something and someone else invents it later, but filed for patent protection before you did, you can have the later inventor’s patent invalidated as long as you can prove that you were the original inventor. One way to do this is mail a prototype or the detailed plans for the invention to yourself at least, or a patent attorney at best, and then leave the post-dated package unopened.

  • Be careful when dealing with invention promotion companies, because many scams exist in this industry.

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