I have a lot of ideas and a couple of year ago I decided to act on those ideas and try inventing. It did not go well; it was my biggest failure and cost me upwards of $20,000. I will detail my experience and mistakes below to help you succeed.
I was inspired by reading blogs and articles of other inventor success stories and started compiling a list of all my invention ideas. I didn’t know how to start so I contacted a local inventor consulting company to get some advice.
They were great at first and helped me narrow down my invention idea to the one that had the most potential. They also gave me a lot of information on the industry and process of inventing. Looking back, I was naive and thought I could achieve my goal with a shoestring budget (this did not work). I think if you want to start inventing, be prepared to spend $10,000 and over. $10,000 is the minimum amount I would have if I ever attempted this again.
Most of the money will go product design and development (unless you have the skills to do it yourself), patent applications and legal fees. So why did I spend over $20,000? A good portion of that went to the consultants, and from what I know now, I could have done it without them.
Firstly, DO NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT YOUR INVENTION, not even friends or family. This could void your future patent application. If you need to discuss it with someone, have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. You can have a lawyer whip one up for you.
TAKE NOTE, because this is the important part that will save you money. Start off by applying for a PROVISIONAL PATENT. Provisional Patents cost substantially less, need less information and give you 1 year’s protection. This gives you one year to finalize your development and test the market before deciding whether your invention will be profitable. At the end of the year you need to apply for the full patent which backdates to the start of your Provisional Patent. This is my understanding from what I was told but do your own research to confirm.
I hadn’t finished my development or market research by the end of the Provisional Patent (I think it just cost more money than I was expecting) and there was a rush at the end to get everything ready for the full patent application.
This is where most of the money was spent and I wish I had known more about the process and costs associated before I started (my fault for not researching). So do your research! From my experience, I knew it would be expensive, but I feel like the further along the process I got, the more money they were squeezing out of me.
Without going through the process again, without the consultants I can’t be sure whether they were over charging and milking me for money. I assume they were, at least that is the feeling I got.
In the end it just got far too expensive for me. I was asked for an extra $8000 for international patent revisions and I just let the patent application lapse.
I was contacted some years later by a businessman inquiring about the application and offering to purchase the patent, but I had let it lapse and missed the opportunity.
So, what is the lesson here? If I could go back in time, I don’t think I would go through the consultants. I would join inventor groups and forums and get advice from inventors before I started. I would do a lot more research about the process and costs involved and I would try and find a mentor