1. Money
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

How to Patent An Idea


Having a winning patent idea takes more than the Eureka moment. Patent ideas have no limitations. Anyone from a 7 year-old child to a great grandmother can create the next big thing. The challenge is to take your invention ideas from your brain to a physical reality that is marketable and can be protected from copycats. Before you embark on the invention journey, determine if you have the necessary ingredients for a great invention idea.

Idea Improvements: Many great invention ideas aren’t totally new ideas but improvements on existing ideas like American Inventor runner-up, Elaine Cato and her 6-In-1 Convertible Brassiere. The NordicTrack cross country ski machine wasn’t the first patent but a big improvement over existing ideas.

Don't be discouraged if a similar idea is patented. It means there could be an existing market for your product. Lizzie Magie patented The Landlord Game in 1904. Charles Darrow played the game and improved it with a new version called Monopoly.

Forget Friends and Family: Just because your family and friends love your invention ideas doesn’t mean it’s great. It's easy to get carried away with the excitement of creating a good invention. Common sense can fall by the wayside. Don't allow your passion to block out the realities of the market place unless you want to join Totallyabsurd.com club for America's Goofiest Patents. Actual absurd patents include the wearable dog house, toilet timer, knee skates, and the life expectancy watch.

Market research is a critical piece of information overlooked by those with invention ideas. You must find out who is the best target market for your invention idea. It doesn't matter how great your friends and family think your invention is. The market is cold and heartless. The consumer decides whether your have a winner or loser.

Build Walls: A good invention idea with a patent doesn’t necessarily provide the protection most inventors want. I was a director at NordicTrack during its peak years. During that time, we developed an abdominal machine that brought in tens of millions in sales. In just a matter of six months, a "fly-by-night" company in Florida had copied our machine in every way, shape, and form.

Instead of pursuing patent infringement and spending years in court against a company that would dismantle and declare bankruptcy, we instead made sure they didn’t have retail distribution for their product. Sometimes the best protection comes from creating strategic barriers not legal barriers that may not hold.

It’s the Presentation Too: All great invention ideas have a mass marketable idea and an emotional presentation. On a past show called American Inventors brothers, Joe and Mike Miller had a hot invention called the Wrap-a-Way Cabinet to store various plastic wraps. The brothers never advanced to the final round because of a lame presentation. The take-home from this show is to create a flawless presentation to investors, customers, or media. When you have one shot to win big; over-preparation cannot be over done.

All great invention ideas combine the passion of the inventor with a large market and competitive barriers. These are essential to success but just a start on your journey into the invention world.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.