Many people think that if they have an idea for a new invention, the first step in protecting their intellectual property is to apply for a patent. This is not always correct. These people also believe that if their idea is unique, getting a patent is necessary before they consider approaching investors or manufacturers. This too is not always correct.
Having a patent does not guarantee success for your product. In fact, it is possible for your product to be sold in stores and be successful without one. A good example of this is Crayola Crayons. The crayons are a bestselling product, that for a long time was not patented (although there have been several patents recently issued to the Crayola® Company in both the Utility & Design categories).
If inventors wish to patent their inventions, it is important for them to remember to do it at the proper time, which is not necessarily at the beginning of the idea process. Timing is important when it comes to patenting an idea, and rushing to do it before the idea is even fully developed may not be the best idea.
When inventors turn to large, reputable inventing companies to help them develop and bring their ideas to life, they often learn that patenting comes more towards the end of the process. This is because the experienced experts at the companies take the time to check for other patents that are similar to your idea and talk to various manufacturers to get an idea of what they are looking for. From there, they usually create a working prototype, run it by the manufacturers again and tweak the prototype. It is important to improve the inventor’s concept and make it as good as possible before trying to get it patented.
Once your idea is developed, it is also possible that it can be sold in stores without a patent. Some of the products that you see currently being sold on store shelves do not have patents. You may see the phrase “Patent Pending” printed on some. This simply means that someone has filed for a patent on the invention and is waiting to see if it is granted. Manufacturers use this as a warning that a patent may soon be issued that would cover the product, and that copiers should be careful not to infringe if the patent is issued. However, a patent is not required in order for the product to be sold.
When coming up with an idea for an invention, some of the main things to consider are the following: Does my idea solve a problem? Is it something that people need? Would people buy it? It is important to be sure that your idea is something that people need before you spend your time and money patenting it or trying to get it sold in stores. A product that is patented but not useful will most likely fail, as having a patent does not guarantee success.