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.
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:
- What to Know About Drafting Patent Claims
- Beyond the Slice and Dice: Turning Your Idea into an Invention
- Distinguishing Colloquial Obviousness and Legal Obviousness
- Mitigating ‘Justified Paranoia’ via Provisional Patent Applications
- Justified Paranoia: Patenting and the Delicate Dance Between Confidentiality and Investment
- Combating the ‘Dunning-Kruger Effect’ in Inventors
- Anatomy of a Valuable Patent: Building on the Structural Uniqueness of an Invention
- How Can I Sell an Idea for Profit? Unlocking the Idea-Invention Dichotomy
- Dear Examiner: I am an Imposter
- Keeping a Good Invention Notebook Still Makes Good Sense
- Patent Pending: The Road to Obtaining a U.S. Patent
- Why do you want a Patent?
- Moving from Idea to Patent: When Do You Have an Invention?
- Protecting an Idea: Can Ideas Be Patented or Protected?
- Investing in Inventing: A Patent Process Primer for Startups
- How to Write a Patent Application
- Filing a patent application is still a smart decision for inventors
- Inventorship 101: Who are Inventors and Joint Inventors?
- Patent Search 101: Why US Patent Searches are Critically Important
- 10 Critical Pieces of Advice for Inventors
- There is no such thing as a provisional patent
- Patent Searches: A Great Opportunity for Inventors to Focus on What is Unique
- Should I File a Patent Application Before Licensing the Invention?
- Can cake designs result in intellectual property protection?
- Turning Your Idea into an Invention
- Learning from common patent application mistakes by inventors
- Why Patent Attorneys Don’t Work on Contingency
- Patentability: The Adequate Description Requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112
- Patentability: The Nonobviousness Requirement of 35 U.S.C. 103
- Patentability: The Novelty Requirement of 35 U.S.C. 102
- Patentability Overview: When can an Invention be Patented?
- Invention to Patent 101 – Everything You Need to Know to Get Started
- The Benefits of a Provisional Patent Application
- What is a Utility Patent?
- Do You Need a Patent?
- Inventing Strategy 101: Laying the Foundation for Business Success
- Patent Prosecution 101: Understanding Patent Examiner Rejections
- 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
- Provisional Patent Applications the Right Way, the Wal-Mart Way
- Inventing to Solve Problems
- 5 things inventors and startups need to know about patents
- The Quid Pro Quo – How Bad Patents Can Harm A Startup Company
- There is no such thing as a provisional patent
- What is a patent and where do patent rights come from?
- 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