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Inventing New Products/Inventions/Improvements on products

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Question
Over the years, I've had ideas, but never did anything about them. I recently moved, widowed, and found that I need something that I wish were different, An improvement on venetian blinds, both horizontal and vertical styles.  But I don't know how or to whom to submit my ideas. Especially to my advantage.  LOL

Answer
Hi Sharline,

Firstly, these days you should consider not submitting only "ideas" to anyone.

There is a new patent law saying the first-to-file a patent, if it's eligible for one, gets it. So if you share your idea(s) with anyone before any filing and they file for a patent first, that puts you out of the picture irrespective of protest as their filing date would supercedes your date.  

There's an old adage that ideas are a dime a dozen. I would recommend you first do a pretty thorough online and in-store search to see if there is or was an invention or product the same as you have the idea for. Next, you should reduce your idea into a sketch(es), then date it/them so at least you remember when you created the concept. Now, after extensive research in the field of blinds, what I might do is try to figure out what your improvement is going to cost to make it to existing blinds or as an addition to them and what the finished blind might cost in terms of retail pricing. If the cost to manufacturer this new part or whatever it is comes at a high price - higher than the average consumer's are willing to pay for existing blinds, you may have to go back to the drawing boards to figure out how to drop the price down in terms of manufacturing etc.

Now, you could also, after you've done the above, learn what a Provisional Application for Patent is (also called a Provisional Patent Application). It is not a patent and never will become one unless it is, how shall I say, converted to one by seeing a patent attorney or agent "within" a year after you filed the PAP. The patent office website at www.uspto.gov will give you information on what a PAP is and what info it should include, cost etc.

You might also see if there's a local inventor's club in your area. Again, use caution in telling anyone what you have. Inventor's clubs can be akin to honey pots where commercial entities hawk their wares to naive inventor members.

Discuss only the Benefits of what you have not the technology or know-how in what it is, how it's would be made, etc. Something like: it makes one's day brighter.....if you get the idea or perhaps it sheds more light or diffused light in a room...........something like that. Just not specifics at least until after you've filed a formal patent application. A PAP is not a formal patent application and offers little protection other than securing a filing date for a formal patent to be filed within the year after filing a PAP.

One can use a "Non Discloser/Non Compete Agreement" if one "must" go into details about it with someone. They date and sign it and you give them a copy. But unless you know the person, where they live etc.....even those can be a tad risky as who's to say such a person doesn't tell a friend about it.

In summary, at this early stage I'd suggest you work on some of the above and don't forget to stop by a local Patent Depository and Trademark Library (usually a section inside a big library) to look over inventor books and to get some more suggestions and be able to search for patents on invention ideas like yours online with the aid of Reference librarians.

Regards
Penny Ballou  

Inventing New Products/Inventions

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Penny Ballou

Expertise

The Invention Process; Royalties; Licensing Inventions/Products; Pricing; Direct to Market; Marketing/Promotions; Patent Searching; DIY patent writing; Types of patents/costs/how to's; Funding (grants and Angel investors); Prototyping; Off-Shore sourcing.

Experience

I am founder of an inventors group; Advisory Board President of www.inventored.org; former Licensing Executive Society member; researcher for www.piausa.org and a consultant; plus moderate and contribute to several online inventor discussion groups.

Publications
Enter my email address into any search engine to find them.

Education/Credentials
Invention development: well-studied and applied in all aspects of the process and an inventor myself with one invention in patent pending and others ramping up. Lived and attended schools in Mainland China and the UK.

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