Inventors must consider a number of different factors before choosing to develop a new product. Two of the most important factors to consider are originality and marketability.
With just under 200,000 patents granted in the United States every year, it is essential for inventors make sure their ideas are original before pouring time or resources into developing them. The most thorough way to do this is to perform a patent search for similar products at the United States Patent and Trademark Office; however, inventors can also search the Internet for similar products on the market, or just take a trip to a store that would sell the same type of product as the one in development.
If the idea is original, inventors should then get a Record of Invention, which is a document proving that the inventor is the one who came up with the idea. Records of Invention typically include an explanation of the original idea, a dated signature from the inventor and at least two more dated signatures from individuals who have heard an understood the idea.
Before developing an idea, inventors must first determine who would buy such a product and whether the invention would be practical. Developing a new product can become very expensive very quickly. Investors can be sought out, but are not likely to invest unless the marketability of the product can be shown. Even for self-funded projects, marketability should be determined before the project begins to determine if the time and money spent would even be worth it.
The next step is to start building prototypes. Ideas often look good on paper, but additional problems or complications are made apparent when the item is actually built and used. Prototypes can then be demonstrated to people from the target demographic to gather additional feedback to improve the product and increase its marketability. Focus group testing can uncover a host of problems, ranging from practical to aesthetic. But finding and fixing these problems ultimately leads to increased marketability, which leads to a more successful invention.