What Money Do You Spend First
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about what the first steps should be for an inventor and what money needs to be spent on initially. Inventing is not easy, and it is not free. Coming up with your idea may be free, but I can’t sell an idea. I always tell inventors that ideas are like belly buttons, everyone has one, but that doesn’t mean it can be sold. What you can sell is intellectual property, or better yet, someone can rent the right to use it. That’s what a licensing agreement is, a company is renting the right to use your intellectual property. They are not licensing or paying for an idea.
So what does this mean for you the inventor? It means your idea needs to be a proven concept and have a patent protecting it and declaring it yours. Your idea becomes a proven concept once you have a working prototype. Your idea becomes intellectual property when you have a patent. Anyone interested in licensing will want to know you have ownership over that intellectual property and that the USPTO recognizes that ownership.
Some of the best ideas are from people working in their own industry or field of expertise and have come up with an improvement to something or solved a problem. Like a dog groomer coming up with an idea for a better brush, or a mechanic coming up with a better way to fix an engine, or a carpenter coming up with a way to harness a caulking gun or put a retractable cap on it… These are examples of great ideas from everyday people doing everyday work.
I have met inventors who have all kinds of responses on what they spent money on initially. And when I start talking to them about what they should have spent money on first, they respond with where have you been all this time? Or why didn’t I learn that sooner? Because the first step makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
The first thing you should spend money on is getting a comprehensive independent patent search completed. Why? Well it needs to be comprehensive so you can make the best decisions possible going forward. It should be independent (i.e not done by you or your patent attorney) so that someone with no bias is doing the search. If you don’t know where to get one done, go to my website, www.inventorlady.com and find the link for SearchQuest. They charge a flat rate of $500 for the worldwide search. That means it covers the USPTO database, the WIPO database and the public domain. All three are critical to getting a USPTO patent issued for your product.
You need to know what else is out there so you can make informed decisions on proceeding. Can you file a patent, should you file a patent….all based on the results of that search. Don’t leave these decisions up to an attorney who has an invested interest in writing your patent whether it gets issued or not.
If you have questions on what to do, where to go, what to spend money on, please come to one of our virtual meetings. Oftentimes the best advice you can get is from others in the trenches who have made mistakes themselves. Links for all of our virtual meetings can be found on the Inventor Lady website and they are free to attend. Virtual means anyone can join us! I hope to see you there.