First (Free) Steps You Can Take
As an inventor, you've no doubt heard the advice, "You've got to spend money to make money." While there is some truth to this, it doesn't mean that you have to spend unwisely. And it doesn't mean you have to spend money right away.
We have a mantra here at Quick Patents... instead of "Get Rich Quick," we like to say "Don't Get Poor Quick." Take some of the steps necessary yourself. They're not that difficult, and they can quickly tell you if your idea is as novel as you might think it is... for free. (Since you're sitting at your computer right now, you can do these steps immediately... read on.)
If you haven't conducted either a "quick and dirty" patent or market search, the odds are that your idea is already out there, somewhere, but it has not successful in the marketplace (because then, of course, you'd know about it already). Not to be discouraging, but even the best inventors know that as soon as they think about an idea they need to perform a little research before they know if they have a great idea or just a good idea that someone else had previously. 90% of the time or more, the idea has already been either marketed or patented.
So before you spend your first dime on your idea, here are two ways you can find-out if there are some real obvious "prior art" patents or products that are similar to your idea: a quick Do-It-Yourself Patent Search, and a quick Do-It-Yourself Market Search. These will not be exhaustive, by any means, but they are a great first step that you can do for free to try and "knock out" your invention.
And believe me, you want to try hard to find your invention when conducting research, because otherwise you'll be fooling yourself and spending money on an idea that may not be worthy, wasting the funds you'll need for your next idea that may truly be novel or unique! You need to put on the attitude that I do whenever conducting a patent search... "Let's find this thing." I'm happy when I find your product in the patent literature, because I know I've done my job and you can stop spending money on an invention that you didn't think of first. Of course, I'm even happier when I don't find it and I know I've looked under every rock I can think of.
The first steps that you can do are to see if there are any prior art patents "out in the open" that are easy to spot. You don't need to spend money with any patent attorney or patent agent to do that. Then, if you don't spot anything obvious, at this point you've reduced the risk and now it might be worth spending a few hundred dollars to have a professional "look under the rocks."
First, complete this one-page Keyword Worksheet. Then perform each of the following:
If you've never done a patent search before, you probably won't be able to do an extremely thorough search... but you will be able to do a "quick and dirty" search to see if there are any easy-to-find prior art patents. Here's how...
Most people who offer a product for sale offer it on the Internet. Here's how to find those product...