Frequently Asked Questions

A sample of what you'll learn from our services
"WHAT ABOUT INVENTION BROKERS AND THOSE ADS I SEE ON TV?" Beware! Many companies take advantage of enthusiastic inventors. Their "review committee" praises your idea. They follow with persistent fees to do a poorly worded patent application and "present your idea to industry" through their "special contacts". They neglect to tell you that the success rate of their method is nearly "zero". Learn how to avoid these scams!
"IF I GET A PATENT, WON'T INDUSTRY BE EAGER TO BUY IT?" Not usually! You can take pride when awarded a patent, but don’t assume it is an endorsement of your invention. You may feel sure the world needs it, but industry is mainly interested in finding more resources to develop the ideas they already have. It’s hard to convince a manufacturer that your idea is better than theirs. Often, the only proof they believe is the sales figures of a proven product. You'll get some practical lessons about patents and protecting your idea.
"WOULD A PROTOTYPE HELP?" Making one can take a lot of work and is progress. But people in industry know that there's a long road from the first prototype to a production model. There are many other things for you to consider before spending the time and money. Find out about the different kinds of prototypes and when you need them.
"WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP?" The first step is to get a working knowledge of all the major steps needed to bring an invention to the market. The cost and effort are much more than most would imagine. So, before investing in your idea, it is essential to become familiar with the subject of product development, the risk involved, and how this applies to your idea. You’ll learn what it takes to finish so you can decide if you want to start.
"In most things, success depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed."
- Charles Louis de Montesquieu, French philosopher (1689-1755)
"HOW CAN I REDUCE THE RISKS IF I GO AHEAD WITH MY PROJECT?" Test your understanding of the opportunity that inspired the idea. Examine the basic concept to see how well it fits a user's needs. Then, test the concept. After all, should you invest if it doesn't work? Next, you could make and test some simple prototypes. If you can’t find a buyer for your idea, you could investigate manufacturing it. But this is when the development process gets very expensive. Find out how to give your idea the acid test before you spend a lot of money.

"It costs a lot to look this cheap." - Dolly Parton

"WHY DOES PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT COST SO MUCH?" While you don't want your product to look cheap, you do want it to be cheap to produce. Finding the simplest design and picking the most efficient way to manufacture it requires several complex and costly stages of testing and refinement. Specialized equipment and the insight that comes from experience are a must. See what determines the best way to manufacture your product.

"CAN I START SIMPLY AND REFINE IT LATER?" Often, the tooling or initial inventory of a product costs more than its development. The mold to produce a simple one piece plastic item can cost $30,000 or more. Obviously, you’d want to keep changes to a minimum so you don’t have to buy many new molds. Also, an efficient design can prevent an expensive scramble to reduce production costs if your product becomes the success you hope it will. However, there are exceptions to these rules. Learn about different cost categories for product development and see which may apply to your project.

Back to Getting Started in the Invention Business

by: O'Connor Technical Systems

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Last Updated: Monday, 02 August, 1998 - 8:30