For example, take the extreme case to the left, which is a fictional illustration of a rather strage personal aircraft having a jet engine. The fact that such a device could be built is no doubt quite impressive, but is this the type of thing an inventor should be investing time, money and energy into creating?
The key to making money with innovation is to be able to solve a problem that will lead to a product or service that others will be willing to pay for. If consumers will not be willing to pay for what you invent then you probably want to move on to the next idea and let it mature into your next invention. After all, you will not only have to get consumers to pay for your product or service, but they will need to be willing to pay a premium to make it worthwhile given you will undoubtedly be investing some money into the creation of the invention, as well as into getting a patent to protect your rights.
I always encourage inventors to learn lessons from great inventors, and who better to learn from than Thomas Edison. Edison famously learned early in his career, inventing for the sake of inventing is not something that will lead to riches. After one of Edison’s first inventions was a flop he famously vowed to never again invent anything without first researching and determining that there would be a demand for the invention or innovation.
While science and innovation for the sake of obtaining knowledge is something that we as a society should to invest in, independent inventors simply cannot afford to engage in intellectual pursuits that have little or no likelihood of ever maturing into a commercialized product or service. University laboratories is where where science for the sake of science should go on, not in the garages of inventors trying to create revenue.
The moral of the story is that the best innovation can lead to no financial reward, while sometimes modest improvements can lead to financial riches. Inventing is a strange thing that way. You never know what will actually make money until you enter the marketplace, but in order to preserve as much capital as possible and continue inventing you need to make sure you do not burn up all financial resources chasing an innovation that will not likely be a winner in the market even if successful.
Inventing is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it more difficult by adding an unnecessary layer of buisness complications. Do market research to satisfy yourself that there will be a demand for what you are inventing. And remember, while you can start out asking friends and family, that cannot be your only research. All to frequently friends and family will tell you what they think you want to hear rather than give you their honest opinions. So when your spouse or best friend says they think it is a great innovation make sure they are not just trying to save your feelings.
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If you are serious about realistically estimating the size of the potential market for your invention I strongly recommend you read Plausibly estimating the market for your invention.
Good luck… and happy inventing!
For more information on this and related topics please see:
- Requisites of a Patent Application: Claims and drawings technically not required on filing date
- Patent Prosecution 101: Understanding Patent Examiner Rejections
- Patent Strategy: Advanced Patent Claim Drafting for Inventors
- Patent Drafting for Beginners: The anatomy of a patent claim
- The Patent Process on a Tight but Realistic Budget
- Patent Drafting for Beginners: A prelude to patent claim drafting
- The Inventors’ Dilemma: Drafting your own patent application when you lack funds
- The Inventor’s Patent Dilemma: Beware the many pitfalls waiting to trip up the unwary
- Provisional Patent Applications the Right Way, the Wal-Mart Way
- Patent Drafting: Describing What is Unique Without Puffing
- Inventing to Solve Problems
- 5 things inventors and startups need to know about patents
- Drafting Patent Applications: Writing Method Claims
- Patent Drawings: An Economical Way to Expand Disclosure
- The Quid Pro Quo – How Bad Patents Can Harm A Startup Company
- Is This Patent Any Good? How to Tell a Good Patent From a Bad One
- Why Does It Cost So Much to Prepare Patent Applications?
- There is no such thing as a provisional patent
- What is a patent and where do patent rights come from?
- Patent Claim Interpretation: The Broadest Reasonable Interpretation Standard
- The Best Mode Requirement: Not disclosing preferences in a patent application still a big mistake
- First to File Means File First! The Risk of Not Immediately Filing a Patent Application
- PCT Basics: Obtaining Patent Rights Around the World
- Sell Your Ideas With or Without a Patent
- Understanding the Patent Law Utility Requirement
- Understanding Obviousness: John Deere and the Basics
- Invention to Patent 101 – Everything You Need to Know to Get Started
- Software Patents and Murphy’s Law: Uncertainty is Where Patentability Resides
- When should you do a Patent Search?
- Design Patents 101 – Protecting Appearance Not Function
- The Top 5 Mistakes Inventors make with their Invention
- Patent Searching 101: A Patent Search Tutorial
- Patent Strategy: Building a patent portfolio with meaningful rights
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- When Should a Do It Yourself Inventor Seek Patent Assistance?
- Patent Cost: Understanding Patent Attorney Fees
- US Patent Office Fees
- The Cost of Obtaining a Patent in the US
- An Inventor’s Guide to Being Taken Seriously by Patent Attorneys
- Provisional patents are like chicken soup, good for everybody
- Plausibly estimating the market for your invention
- The Business Responsible Approach to Patents and Inventing
- A beginner’s guide to patents and the patent process
- Every invention starts with an idea
- Patent Drafting: Thinking outside the box leads to the best patent
- How to Know When You’re Ready to File a Nonprovisional Patent Application
- Are you Ready to File a Provisional Patent Application?
- The Importance of Keeping an Expansive View of the Invention
- Why Inventors Should Not Rely On Their Own Search
- Getting Your Invention to Market: Licensing vs. Manufacturing