Inventing to Solve Problems

By Gene Quinn
January 19, 2008

While this cartoon may be funny, it speaks to a problem that is faced by many inventors and companies.  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.  As Thomas 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 vowed to never again invent anything without first researching and determining that there would be a demand for the invention or innovation.

Science and innovation for the sake of obtaining knowledge is something that we as a society need to invest in, which is why the federal government funds research laboratories and universities.  That is the place where science for the sake of science should go on, not in the laboratories or garages of inventors who need to make innovation a revenue driving enterprise.

The moral of the story is that the best innovation can lead to no financial reward, while sometimes modest improvement or innovation can lead to financial riches.  Inventing is a strange thing that way really.  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.

Good luck… and happy inventing!

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The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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