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Ideas for Finding Inexpensive or Free Help For Your Invention
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.
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).
Links to Sites to Help Inventors
- United Inventors Association
An inventors association that has a free newsletter and other free information on the site. Cost of full access to all of its services is $99 peer year
- Welcome to The National Congress of Inventor Organizations
a national inventors organization and association for umbrella inventors groups and independent inventors and small businesses that invent and develop new ideas and products and technology transfer in the area of inventing and inventions and innovati
- Home - SBDCNet - National SBDC Information Clearinghouse
The mission of the Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse (SBDCNET) is to meet the research and information needs of the SBDC community in the United States and its territories. SBDCNET serves as a resource providing tim
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.
Links to My Other Hubs
- How to Come Up With Ideas for Inventions
The old saying, necessity is the mother of invention, is still probably the best guide as it is the driving force for two of the most common ways I can think of for coming up with ideas for new inventions. ...
- What is a mental bank?
A mental bank is a term used to describe the process of filling your mind with positive thoughts in order to gain a more positive and joyful outlook on life. The idea is to actively think positive thoughts...