Before you hire a patent attorney and spend money, do these 3 FREE steps:
- Step 1: Conduct the patent search
- Step 2: Determine the market size of the invention
- Step 3: Build a prototype
These steps will save you money on the patent process. Also, your patent attorney will appreciate that you’ve done these steps beforehand. If you need to talk to a patent attorney, I invite you to contact us.
Step 1: Conduct an informal patent search
You can conduct an informal patent search for free. I suggest that you do a Google image search. Type in keywords for your invention into www.google.com. Click on Images. Browse through the images to find your invention. You can see how to perform the google image search in the video above.
If you don’t find your invention with the Google image search process, you can take a deeper dive by following the 7 Step Patent Search Strategy produced by the USPTO. This is the same process I would use if you paid me to do the patent search for you. The one change to the search strategy is to use the patent database at www.freepatentsonline.com which is much easier to use compared to the USPTO’s patent database.
Step 2: Determine the market size of the invention
You should seek patent protection for only those ideas which are BIG MONEY IDEAS. Big-money ideas are ideas that could make you a substantial amount of money with a moderate level of success. Anything less is a small money idea and isn’t worthy of spending the time and money to get a patent. If it’s a small money idea then no one would ever copy your idea because no serious money can be made with your invention.
Step 3: Build a prototype
Building a prototype may not be free but it has significant benefits.
First, the prototype will be your proof of concept.
Second, you can show the prototype to investors and your patent attorney. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve learned more about the patent or the invention by handling the prototype.
Third, you will find that you will improve your invention based on the problems you encounter while you build your prototype. When you improve your prototype, these improvements are all potential areas where you might want to seek or pursue patent protection.
When you build your prototype, you may hire an engineer or manufacturer. Here are sample basic agreements (e.g., nondisclosure agreement) you will need to work with them so that they don’t steal your idea.