Before attempting to patent an idea or invention, be sure you have completed the following basic steps:
Have you researched your idea to be sure it is not already invented? Many inventors approach only to learn that their idea already exists. The Internet is a great tool to look for similar inventions. Using Google or other search engines is a great way to find products. Search using several different key words and look for similar products. The USPTO (www.uspto.gov) is the official government site for patents, and this is also a great place to look, but it is generally not a user-friendly as Google.
Have you calculated how much money you may make from your invention? It always amazed me how many people never took time to estimate how much they can make from their inventions. Here are some helpful tips. If you plan to license your idea, expect to receive 3%~6% royalties, and that is after you find someone to license it. Expect to spend at least $15,000 or more on travel and attorney fees if you license it yourself as was explained in http://blogs.bu.edu/suechen/inventhelp-taking-inventions-from-paper-to-the-global-marketplace/ article.
If you use a broker or licensing firm, they will take at least 25% of your royalty, and there is no guarantee that you will get a deal. In addition to that, many firms charge fees, so be sure you know how much these fees are and what you receive for them. If you plan to manufacture and sell the product yourself, be sure you have a solid business plan first. I personally do not recommend this unless you have experience running a company, or have partners and/or advisors to help you.
Do you know your competition? Many people make the mistake of assuming that just because they make something better than existing products that they will sell millions. This is not true. Consider the little aluminum kick-and-go scooters that were popular about 7 years ago. These appeared out of nowhere, and they sold millions the first year. Two years later there were at least 10 versions of these, and almost all of them were better than the original. Unfortunately the fad was over, and nobody cared. Most of the companies went broke.
Be sure there is a market for your product. If possible, go to industry trade organizations and try to find out how many similar products are sold every year, what they sell for, and what features they offer. This will give you some idea of the market size and sales potential.
How will you market your product? Having a good idea and making a prototype is the easy part. Getting the product to market and getting people to buy it is the hard part. Be sure you have a plan IN WRITING! If it won’t work on paper it won’t work in the real world! If you are not sure how to do this, some suggestions are to attend trade shows and meet with Manufactures Sales Representatives. Most of them are ex sales and marketing professionals that independently represent products.
Another option is Internet sales and distributors that offer similar products to your invention. Local colleges and universities are also great sources for help. Many professors teaching sales and marketing classes are often looking for “real world” class projects. You can learn much more about patenting process and patents from this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwagHuXIMMY as well.