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Posts Tagged: "prototyping"

Keep Your Money In Your Wallet Until Proof of Concept

most successful inventors and product development companies that I know, start off with a Proof of Concept Analysis BEFORE they start spending money. So if they do it, why not you? A full Proof of Concept Analysis consists of three equally important parts: Business Analysis, Ownership Analysis and Product Analysis. These steps should be developed simultaneously or at least completed before moving on to development or you WILL certainly regret it later. So after you savor that wonderful “Moment of Discovery” and you have finished daydreaming about striking it rich, you really do need to move forward to take a cold hard honest look at your new product. At this point you don’t have to go into excruciating detail, just a quick overview to make sure it is worth pursuing. The questions generated will form the basis of your development process.

Financially Responsible Inventing: Prototype Basics

Getting professional patent illustrations or engineering drawings is certainly helpful, but there is simply no substitute for having a working prototype. Unfortunately, prototypes cost real money. Even though costs have dropped over the past few years thanks to new technologies, the prototype stage is where inventors start to really burn through cash at an alarming rate. For example, if you build an expensive prototype and then need to make a change because it didn’t work so well that means building another expensive prototype. That being the case wise inventors push off an expensive prototype as far into the future as reasonably possible. Instead consider starting with a 3D model, which is much less expensive than a prototype. 3D modeling starts to bring the invention into focus and really can allow you and prospective licensees and partners to envision the invention in a meaningful way.

The Business Responsible Approach to Inventing

There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to inventing that can be claimed to be a road-map to success that will work in all cases. Notwithstanding, there are certainly a number of things that can and should be done early in the inventing process if an inventor is going to pursue inventing as more than a hobby. I continually preach to inventors the need to follow what I call a “business responsible” approach, which is really just my way of counseling inventors to remember that the goal is to not only invent but to hopefully make some money. Truthfully, the goal is to make more money than what has been invested, which is how the United States Congress defined “success” in the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999.  The odds of being successful with one of your inventions increase dramatically if you engage in some simple steps to ensure you are not investing time and money on an invention that has little promise.

Turning Your Idea into an Invention

One thing that many individuals and professional inventors employed by corporations (i.e., “kept inventors”) have in common is that they frequently do not perceive what they have come up with as worth patenting. So many have the idea that a patent is something that gets awarded to breakthrough innovations, when in fact it is far more common to have a patent awarded to an improvement on an existing product. If you can improve upon something , there is already a market in existence for the underlying product and consumers will perceive your improvement as worth paying for then you very well may have a winning invention. Certainly, you are much farther along the path to success with that trifecta.

Patent Illustrations and Invention Drawings, What do you Need?

Over the years I have worked with many inventors as they seek to move forward with their inventions. As a patent attorney it is no great surprise that the overwhelming number of individuals I have worked with are interested in filing a patent application and ultimately obtaining a patent. Filing a patent application necessitates have drawings to include in the application, but patent drawings are not the only type of “drawings” that an inventor should be considering. Patent illustrations are wonderful for a patent application, but they don’t always do the invention justice if you are trying to capture the attention of a prospective licensee, or if you are trying to convince a buyer to place orders or sell the invention in their store.

A Limited Run: Testing the Market Without Going Broke

Licensing your invention is a lot easier if you can show that it’s selling. That means you have to produce a small quantity of your product. Nice idea – until you learn that a plastic injection mold costs $25,000. Now what? Fortunately, there are options. You just have to know where to look.

Invention to Patent: The Pitfalls, Perils and Process

There are a number of things that you need to know about the invention and patent process that can help you focus your efforts and know what obstacles lay in front of you. Once you conceive (idea + game plan) you will need to be diligent and not let any grass grow under your feet as you move forward toward defining and experimenting with your invention. Generally speaking, conception without diligence can cause the first person who invents to lose the right to the invention assuming someone else invents after you but files their patent application first. So, the moral of the story is once you have your idea and the game plan move swiftly. The law realizes that so-called “garage inventors” cannot quit their day job, but the law will also require proof that you are consistently moving forward and not shelving the invention for periods of time in favor of other endeavors.

Invention Prototypes, Prototyping & Prototype Basics

Like anything in life worth doing, the path of an independent inventor from initial stage idea to making money can be challenging. If it were easy then everyone would be a rich inventor. Luckily for those who have the determination to pursue innovation as a business it is not easy enough for anyone to do, which means that there are opportunities available. One of the keys to successfully making money as an inventor is understanding that those who are successful operate in a business responsible way, and this requires closely monitoring expenditure of funds. While you may want to rush out and build a prototype you need to be careful. There is nothing like the show and tell of a working prototype to lure investors, partners and licensing deals, but inventing is better viewed as a marathon than a 100 yard dash, and preserving capital is absolutely essential if you are going to be successful.

Keep Your Money In Your Wallet Until Proof of Concept

After you savor that wonderful “Moment of Discovery” and you have finished daydreaming about striking it rich, you really do need to move forward to take a cold hard honest look at your new product. At this point you don’t have to go into excruciating detail, just a quick overview to make sure it is worth pursuing. The questions generated will form the basis of your development process. A full Proof of Concept Analysis consists of three equally important parts: Business Analysis, Ownership Analysis and Product Analysis. Let’s take a look at each part individually.

Bringing Inventions to Life: The Magic of 3D Modeling

Another benefit provided by these drawings is that the image of the modeled parts or assembly is photo realistic and so it can be used in sales and market research literature before you have committed to manufacturing the parts. You can create catalog sheets and marketing literature. You can even use these drawings to share with your patent attorney or patent agent, who will likely find them extremely helpful when trying to figure out how your invention fits together and operates. In some cases you might even be able to use these drawings in a patent application, particularly a provisional patent application.

Exploratory Prototyping Advice from an Inventor

You have an idea, now what? Unless your idea is ridiculously simple, you will probably need to develop it. Almost no ideas come fully formed. They must evolve to approach their final form. Evolution takes place through a process of exploration whereby the inventor plays with the idea and learns. The best method for playing and learning is making a prototype. Making a physical model will often expose overlooked problems and opportunities for improvement. I cannot count the number of times that, in the construction of a prototype, I discovered obvious problems that I had missed. In addition, I discovered many ways to improve upon my idea.