Information for Inventors
The road to success can vary for inventors based on what route you’d like to take. For instance, do you plan to pay upfront for design development costs or are you looking to develop your idea on paper first with something called a “Sell Sheet”?
Taking your idea all the way yourself:
This can be a great route for those inventors who typically have more of a background with producing products and may even have an “in” already with potential buyers or manufacturers. Development for this route generally follows the design process listed below.
Developing your product invention yourself also makes sense if you want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before talking to buyers so that when you do shake on the deal everything is all ready to go an your not hit with delays. It also means you have more control of the look, function and product direction than just handing off the idea and finding out later its not what you were hoping for.
Going through the design development process yourself means that you have your idea fleshed out. You may have a working or visual prototypes ready. You have a tech pack (Can show construction, colors, logo placement, dimensions, manufacturing notes, etc) showing how your idea is put together for the factory to work from. You have your PMI packet (product manufacturing information) ready to send to a factory for a quote for production or you already have the quote.
Bare in mind any project will have to go through the factory engineers prior to production to ensure the product will be manufactured successfully. This could be checking mold threading for a water bottle to make sure it won’t leak, looking over snaps and enclosures so that they close tightly, or testing a spring latch and making sure its secure and not flimsy. These are all important measures standard to any product development and should not be overlooked, they should be expected. Prototypes help iron out design kinks and are part of the process but the factory is responsible overall for the fit, function and overall success of the product when it comes time to be manufactured.
The Sell Sheet: (A shorter and often less expensive approach)
If you cannot convey your ideas in an impactful way, you are dead in the water. That’s the truth! When it comes to product licensing, sell sheets are the answer. A good sell sheet makes the person who views it think, “Wow! That’s interesting. I’d like to learn more.”- Stephen Key – Inventor coach
A sell sheet is usually a single page layout that shows your product idea photo realistically rendered, special features, scale and how its used. It presents all the information about your product like selling points, features and benefits and why it stands out. Here is an example of a sell sheet I created. This is a much lower cost approach to licensing your product than trying to manufacture your idea an going through the entire design development process all by yourself. The Sell Sheet is especially important when trying to license your product. By having one a buyer can quickly and easily understand what your product is and why its special.
Patents: You can sell your ideas with or without a patent.
Most inventors are looking for a utility patent (more protection, more expensive) or a design patent (cheaper, less protection, just prevents someone directly copying the appearance).
Once your product is designed, typically even from a sell sheet, you can begin the process of talking to a patent attorney about patenting your idea. You don’t have to have your product made or totally developed to patent it.