Fields of information you will need to research
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Before you say "no" - understanding the importance of knowing ABSOLUTELY. You don't want to put months of effort into your invention only to find out someone else in Germany had the same invention 5 years ago. If your invention has ever existed, anywhere, at any time, created by any person, you can NOT patent it - it's already been invented!
There are two fields of information you will need to research:
Patent and Non-Patent Prior Art - the "legal" research. Researching whether your invention has already been patented or published in magazines, engineering or scientific journals. Prior art is any reference to a design that occurred BEFORE you wrote it down in your dated and witnessed Inventor's Journal - or "Prior" to your documented invention date.
Market and Sales Potential Research - the "business" research. We see thousands of inventors who strike out on their inventions before they ever realize that if there is no proven market for their invention, the product simply won't sell. By following the Free Expert Articles below, and using our research tools, you can determine pretty well whether your invention will sell once it's patented. (It's much better to find this out now, instead of after a year of investment!)
The initial search is a preliminary verification that the invention is worth further time and resources. An initial search is not intended to be complete, but rather helps determine whether you should pay for a professional searching later on. It's called a PRIOR ART SEARCH since the objective is to determine whether someone else invented your idea PRIOR to you. An inventor can conduct a search of the United States Patent Office records, or by searching a variety of other online search resources. Paper copies of the original patents may be purchased from a variety of sources, including the US Patent Office for a few bucks each, but you can read them online for free.
An inventor must also gain a preliminary understanding of whether the product can be manufactured at a low enough cost that consumers will pay the associated retail price. We've provided an Online Product Evaluation Program that you can use to assess your idea or invention.
The inventor may determine a retail price by searching for newer products on these search engines or out in the traditional market. Manufacturing price and distribution costs also need to be determined.
During this phase, do not disclose your unprotected idea unless you intend to do so, understanding that you could lose your patent rights.
But Will Your Idea SELL? you should know that more than 95% of all patents never make money for the inventor. Why? Because the inventor is so wrapped up in the novelty of "having an original idea", that they never take an objective look at the marketability of the invention. The Patent Cafe Invention Evaluation Program is revolutionary! It's computer-based, and takes away much of your bias towards success probability. It evaluates your idea based on marketability, legal and safety issues, costs, sales potential and more -- the areas many inventors never look before spending big money on patents.
The patent search should be professionally confirmed if the invention appears to have market viability. A patent search and opinion by a legitimate, registered patent attorney can be obtained for around $400 through.