In May’s issue of our e-newsletter, we discussed the second of an 8 Step Product to Market Guide for inventors and entrepreneurs looking for some direction on where to begin. So, now that you’ve had some time to think about the ‘why’, and have begun to establish marketability, let’s talk about the next step! Read more as we discuss the third step of this guide and become one step closer to achieving your goals of launching your own product idea.
Know your why? Check! Establish marketability? Check! Your next important step is to avoid patent infringement. Not being aware of infringement potential can lead to total loss of your investment. If you infringe on someone else’s patent, they can shut you down or hold you hostage. So why take the risk?
Understand what constitutes a patent
One basic and easy way to avoid patent infringement is to understand what constitutes a patent, that way you have an idea of what to look for and how to refine your idea further to make the best invention that you can.
When we speak of patents, in most cases we’re referring to what we commonly call utility patents. Utility patents protect four kinds of things:
- A process – any combination of steps or methods.
- A machine – a machine is any combination of parts.
- A manufacture – a combination of materials to make something new.
- A new composition of matter – could be a chemically new substance, like a drug or other formula.
Your invention can be one of these or a combination of these. For example, a new state-of-the-art cabling system might involve both processes and machines. Patents cannot be too abstract, they must be defined and they cannot be a natural discovery. Your patent has to also be novel and non-obvious meaning that the invention must be completely new.
Utilize your free resources, do a search!
Fortunately, in the 21st century, we have many online resources available to make patent searches simple and easy for anyone to do. These tools are free and can save you much time and investment later.
Here is what you do:
- Write down as many descriptive terms you can think of to describe your idea
- Go to https://patents.google.com or http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html and plug in each term you came up to generate a list of results.
- Read-up and learn the search interface to improve your effectiveness
- If you find something exact or similar, don’t worry yet, just be sure to copy the patent number or download the patent for a future patent attorney review.
- Make a note of the grant date, if the patent is actively maintained, and who owns it.
- If you find an exact match, and the patent has been granted and maintained, it’s time to tap into your “why” and justify further efforts in contacting the patent holder and offering to license their patent. You can potentially continue driving your product vision to market under licensed terms.
Consider getting a patent attorney
It is advisable that you get a patent attorney involved and pay for a professional patent search regardless of your findings. Your future is at stake, so it’s best to be on the safe side now. In the event that you do a good job on your own, you can often negotiate a lower fee, given the head-start your patent attorney now has because of you.
Don’t give up just yet!
If you find that your product idea has already been patented, don’t get discouraged just yet! That’s not always a bad thing. For starters, it validates the need for the product in the marketplace. And with a good support system like Envision Product Development Group, there are ways to design around existing patents. As an alternative, the importance of knowing who owns the intellectual rights to a product idea you are passionate about driving to market, can quickly connect you with the patent holder with whom you can often negotiate a licensing deal in return for a royalty %.
At Envision, the idea is the easy part
Remember, not being aware of infringement potential can lead to a total loss of your investment. At Envision, we are a passionate and talented group of innovators, committed to creating and introducing great products into the world. From individual inventors to Fortune 500 companies, we work with everyone. With our combined efforts and experiences, we have developed, produced, patented and marketed hundreds of both high-tech and low-tech product innovations that have been successfully sold to markets worldwide and we can tell you all about it! Let us help you take things step by step and pave a path to market for your idea, for you. Visit our website at https://envisionproducts.com/ and find out how we can help you and stay tuned for the 4th of 8 steps product to market guide.