Thu, May 26, 2022
Getting an idea off the ground sounds intimidating, but doesn’t have to be. In fact, the hardest part about turning an idea into reality is convincing yourself that it’s worth the pursuit. At Gizmospring, we love guiding clients through this process and seeing new innovations come to life. If you’ve been contemplating a new invention or design and need some guidance, then this step-by-step tutorial is just for you.
Coming up with an original idea for a new product or design can be exciting, but it’s important to make sure that it doesn’t already exist. The US Patent and Trademark Office website can help to confirm if any drawings, illustrations, instructions or models similar to your idea already have patents. This can be done by looking up keywords that describe your product or its unique features. If nothing shows up, then it’s time to move on to the next step.
Proof of concept refers to testing an idea to see if it’s possible. This step usually consists of creating a simplified mockup that replicates how the finished product would work. It also helps to identify any flaws that could be encountered during the design or engineering process. Proof of concept should not be confused with a working model, as working models require much greater time and effort.
Testing a concept in a controlled environment is one thing, but making sure that it can be applied to a number of different scenarios is the real goal. Inventions that only work under strict conditions have a much tougher time gaining universal acceptance. Consider the design of a bluetooth speaker. While the speaker might work exceptionally well at home or in the office, it might not be equipped for the beach surrounded by salt and sand.
Documenting an idea is essential to proving that it is, without a doubt, your intellectual property. If an idea isn’t properly documented, it can be extremely difficult to prove ownership. This happens surprisingly often, which is why IP lawsuits are so popular. The more structured an idea is, the more likely it is to hold up in court. Keep a notebook with multiple dates, memos, and drawings to prove your idea took significant time, effort, and consideration. It also helps to have a witness sign and date next to your work as well.
Once an idea has been properly documented, it’s time to start working on a Prototype.
Prototypes are vital for uncovering any flaws that might have been missed during previous steps. If the design is fairly straightforward, then it’s possible to create a working prototype at home. However, if an idea is more complex, the next best solution is contacting a reputable product designer to guide you through the design and manufacturing process. Product designers can use written and illustrated information to create working prototypes for testing.
After a functional prototype has been created and all concerns about the product itself have been addressed, it’s time to take into account additional obstacles that may prevent your product from going to market. This can include: cost of production, safety regulations, user experience, market restrictions, and so on. Product designers also have extensive experience with these areas and can provide insights on how to deal with each of these issues.
Finally, the time has come to file your own patent! If you’ve done everything we’ve recommended so far, filing a patent is a fairly-straightforward process. Submit copies of your records, documents, prototypes and signatures to the US Patent and Trademark Office. Next, you will be given the option of filing for a patent pending application (PPA) or a regular patent application (RPA). The difference between the two is that the former only allows you to declare “pending status”, which protects your idea for one year. Afterwards, all your material must be reviewed for a regular patent. If everything checks out, you can officially call yourself an inventor. Congrats!