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Ideas for Finding Inexpensive or Free Help For Your Invention

Updated on January 26, 2013

This is in answer to the question: I have an idea for an invention and I am curious about these companies. It is very expensive to apply for a patent so I'm wondering if they are a rip off?

After giving this request some thought I have decided to provide an answer even though my experience in this area is very limited.

I do have a little experience in this area having worked for a couple of years advising small business owners as a counselor with a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at a community college.

In this capacity I worked with a variety of small businesses including a couple of inventors trying to build businesses around their inventions.

I also attended some workshops we sponsored on obtaining funding for research and development by entrepreneurs from the Federal Government's SBIR (Small Business Innovation and Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) programs.

Some Questions to Answer

While I don't know of any companies or organizations that I can refer you to for help and with the assurance that they are both legitimate and reasonably priced, I can point you to areas where you can gather information and, hopefully, find leads to people or companies that can help you get your invention patented and taken to market.

The first thing you should do is decide what you are going to do with your idea once you have your patent.  

- Are you going to manufacture and sell the product yourself?  

- If so, what are you going to need in terms of start up funds?  

- How will it be manufactured - by you or outsourced to some other company?  

-How will you market it?  

- How and where will you sell it - will you sell the product yourself or contract with another entity to do this and will it be sold locally, nationally or internationally?

Patents and Trade Secrets

Next are you going to protect your idea with a patent, a trade secret or some combination of the two?

If you don't know the difference between these two methods you might want to learn a little about each before going further.

WikiPedia is always a good place to pick up some general knowledge on a subject and their articles on patents and trade secrets are no exception.

It would also be a good idea to click the links for their sources as these will provide additional specific information.

The goal here is to educate yourself so that you can put together a business plan for the entire process and to help you find and evaluate the right professionals you will need to make your idea a reality without being cheated by a scam artist or, worse still, having your idea stolen.

Once you have some information and an idea as to how you want to proceed it will be time to begin your search for the assistance that you will need to take your idea through the process of patenting it and bringing it to market where you will try to make money with it.

Start With a Visit to a Small Business Development Center

A good first place to start your search would be a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Small Business Development Centers can be found in most communities, usually affiliated with a community college or university.

SBDCs are funded by grants from the Federal Government's Small Business Administration (SBA) and the sponsoring college and generally offer their business counseling at no cost to you the client (you have already paid for them with your taxes).

SBDCs are usually good at guiding you through the writing of a business plan, a marketing plan and running financial projections to estimate the costs and potential financial returns of the project.

Depending upon the staff's expertise, they may be able to provide some advice on the patent process (they won't process your patent or provide any legal advice) and possibly direct you to trusted professionals to take you the rest of the way through the process (these professionals will usually charge for their services).

Looking for Inventor Assistance

At this point you will have to be ready to spend some money. However, while it is highly unlikely that you will be able to do this entire process at little or no cost, you don't have to waste a fortune either.

At the right are links to sources to get you started. Some are free while others involve some cost. However, all of them seem to offer enough free information to enable you to check them out before deciding if it is worth paying for the additional information and services available to those who pay to join.

While most of these offer valuable information at little or no cost, the real value here will be leads and information that will let you find the right professionals who will take you through the patent, marketing and sales process at a reasonable cost (and reasonable here will vary depending upon the complexity of your invention and what will be needed to bring it to market after receiving your patent).

Be sure to keep track of all of your expenses, including mileage to attend meetings and other business related trips as well as the costs of any business related meals and lodging. Then find a good accountant (another expense) to advise on which of these expenses can be deducted from your income taxes.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I disagree with the advice given on this subject. I am a patented inventor and I can tell you that a provisional patent only protects the date of filing and not the contents. My suggestion is to keep a detailed log/lab book, all receipts, photograph every stage of your prototype and get everything witnessed by a disinterested third party before you even think about a patent. Search the USPTO database for any related patent under as many categories you can think of. Then make sure everybody that knows or wants to know anything about your invention signs a Non-Disclosure agreement. The last thing you want to do is file a patent before you know your invention is viable, practical and cost effective to manufacture.

    • abbas73 profile image


      7 years ago from hubpages

      great hub, thanks

    • Hugh Williamson profile image

      Hugh Williamson 

      7 years ago from Northeast USA

      Very informative and well written. I'll have to go and check out your other work. Nice Hub.

    • Blessed Hill profile image

      Blessed Hill 

      7 years ago

      Hi Chuck and fellow inventors,

      I too am an aspiring inventor with a few inventions up my sleeve. I too have been looking for a companyto help with my inventions. After some searching I came across a company that seems to be able to help inventors get their inventions into the market. Lambert and Lambert ( Read their whole website and then do some background checking, which is what I am doing. Our inventions are meant to make money for us and not be stolen by some scam artists. Get a provisional patent on your invention first before approaching anyone to market or license it. Protect your intelectual property. Please keep us informed should you make any head way in this matter. It would be most appreciated.

    • munirahmadmughal profile image


      7 years ago from Lahore, Pakistan.

      "Are there any legitimate companies that help you with your invention?"

      The best source may be the inventors other than you. Meet them, consult them and decide according to your capacity.

      Another way is to make a summary of what you consider as your own and float for comments. This would attract all those persons who have already done some work more or less than your endeavour and you will judge yourself where you stand.

      This world is of possibles and of seeking knowledge. Hence never become dejected and go on searching, researching and constant searching. You will have access to the goal.

      Knowledge is unveiling of the truth. Bestowal with knowledge is the favour of All-knowing God Almighty.Ideas are instilled in the mind, heart is expanded, vision becomes vivid and the hidden thing is ventilated. In the language of computer a window is opened.

      May God bless all.

    • KrisHudgens profile image


      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Like any industry, the invention service industry has its bad apples and good apples. It's actually pretty easy to tell the two apart. If a company can point to successful products or inventions they have helped bring to market, they probably know what they are talking about. If they can't, then don't listen to them.

      Most inventors don't need help with their 'inventions'. The inventing has already been done. They usually need help understanding how to navigate the business aspects of monetizing their invention. And that takes the experience and know-how of someone that has done it many times. I talk a little bit about this on my hub:

    • trimar7 profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      I too wonder how to get my ideas out to companies who claim to help you with your inventions. Are there legitimate companies who are not just trying to take advantage of people?

    • profile image


      8 years ago from BRADFORD UK

      Awesome!-I have a question are there any companies that could help me with my project of THERMO - Liquid fuel invention from funding to RD?

      THERMO - Liquid fuel will recycle repeatedly withing an engine for up to 6 months till next refill, this fuel will benefit military aircraft putting an end to the need of mid air refueling - it will have a unique performance free of C02 emmissions!!!

      My problem is funding & disclosing the details of how this fuel system works, any suggestions?

    • 10xppl profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks , this is really a great hub

    • mel22 profile image


      8 years ago from ,

      Another great hub ! If I ever come up with a million dollar idea i'll be sure to stop back and read again.. Maybe i'll even give you a small donation for the useful information. LOL . Keep up the usual good work writing in-depth articles.

    • charmstotreasure profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, so many HUbs, so little time! How do you do it, Mr. Inventor! Awesome bunch of Hubs you have.

    • Grills Guy profile image

      Grills Guy 

      8 years ago from Santa Cruz

      I've heard so many horror stories regarding this. My advice is to learn the legal system and DO IT YOURSELF. Only way to keep from getting screwed.

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 

      8 years ago

      This is a great topic I know people who have inventions and they say that getting the patent is the hardest, your resources are really useful.

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 

      8 years ago

      Interesting hub and very helpful. I have something I have wanted to put down on paper for quite awhile but I never know where to begin, and those commercials make it seem so easy.

      I also like the comment above bobmu about mailing something in writing to yourself so it's postmarked with a date. Maybe notarizing would help too?

      Thanks for your great hubs!

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Great hub, Chuck! Thanks!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Fantastic hub Chuck, so get started making another invention. I need an exciting toilet, maybe you can muster that us...thumbs up

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Deankeaton259 - Not being an inventor myself, I don't have experience with any of these companies and haven't had a need to check any of them out. So I am in no position to judge whether a particular company or group of these companies is legitimate or not.

      My guess is that most of them are probably legitimate but also may not do much more than fill out paperwork for you which anyone could probably do if they simply took the time to read the directions. Also, my off the cuff feeling is that, given the cost of TV advertising, their prices may be on the high side especially if the services they offer for these prices is minimal.

      What I tried to do in the Hub was provide a process which could point people in the direction where they could get their basic questions answered and find legitimate companies that provide the services that they need. So, while I can't tell you which companies are good and which ones are scams, I have tried to direct you to areas and organizations that can steer you away from scams. This is an area where the ancient advice caveat emptor (buyer beware) definitely applies.

    • earnestshub profile image


      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Informative and very useful hub in keeping with your usual high standard! I am from a family of inventors. My family have sold off to manufacturers in most cases keeping a small royalty. My uncles family are still receiving payments 30 years later. They pay pretty well for a useful marketable product and you get the time to go invent something else.

    • DeanKeaton259 profile image


      8 years ago from Troy, Michigan

      Great hub. What do you think about those companies that advertise on tv? They offer to help develop your inventions. Are those companies a sham or are they worth checking out?

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      Excellent hub. A friend of mine invented the "Ladder Mate." I worked with him in his painting business as he was developing it and legally protecting it. He finally sold the rights to manufacture it because he just couldn't raise the capital himself.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      Terrific and important hub. I know someone who was taken for a ride by a very unscrupulous firm. They took his money and did absolutely nothing for him.

    • The Rising Glory profile image

      The Rising Glory 

      8 years ago from California

      Good info, this has been a long time question of mine as we have tried to bring some things into existence, but it seemed that the companies you had to deal with are rip offs. Thanks for the Hub.

      On a side note, it was interesting to watch the TV program "Shark Tank" or something like that where people pitched their ideas to investors.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Chuck - You have presented some excellent resources for inventors. The SBA, in particular, is a fount of reliable information for anyone with an invention, an idea for an invention, or a desire to start a small business.

      PS - Have your retired Chika?

    • bobmnu profile image


      8 years ago from Cumberland

      I have a friend who is an inventor and hold several patents. One suggestion he had was to put you idea on paper with the necessary information to identify your invention. The seal it in an envelope, seal it and mail it top yourself. This gives you a date (postmark) for you invention in case someone you are dealing with tries to use the same idea. The sealed postmarked envelope is kind of an insurance policy for you invention.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This hub is the entire acumulation of every points, and a helpful step by step guide also. Well done. Enjoy.

    • entertianmentplus profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Good info.


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