New inventions spring from poor economies as people figure out ways to solve problems, develop cheaper, less expensive products, and make innovations in services and distribution. Coming from the Great Depression of the 1930’s were innovation and inventions like supermarkets, photocopying (Xerography), car radios, electric razors, cotton Tampons, chocolate chip cookies, and the game of Monopoly, So if you have the knack for inventing, there’s never been a better time to turn your ideas into income.
Today inventions are springing forth. For example, a thirteen year old boy has invented a lollipop to cure the age-old problem of hiccups. It’s called Hiccupops.
Check out these crowdsourcing like Kickstarter.com and Peerbackers.com. While marketing is the key to getting an inven¬tion from a patent into use, the opportunities to get media exposure are growing with television shows like EverydayNation, Invention Addict, and Modern Marvels on the History Channel, home shopping networks like QVC and the Home Shopping Network, and the use of social media, blogs, and podcasts provide inventors with direct access to global buyers. In addition, corporations are shedding the not-invented-here mentality and are increasingly open to buying inventions directly from inventors. That virtually happened on-screen on American Inventor during the first season.
If your forte is marketing more than inventing, consider turning unused patents into products. Mom Inventors (www.mominventors.com), in addition to developing, manufacturing, and selling Mom Invented™ products, helps mom inventors to connect with one another on its site and offers educational products. Be cau¬tious, however, of invention promotion and marketing companies that require an up-front fee for their services. As a result of the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, you can check out complaints filed against such companies with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; however, because of lag time and the fact that most people are too embarrassed to file a complaint, a lack of complaints on a list is not complete assurance.
The new “First to File” provision in the patent law change effective this year makes it important that inventors learn how to protect their work before releasing it. To find out what you need to do. To start with, check out conversations in inventor groups such as groups on LinkedIn and Quirky and seriously consider using an attorney who specializes in patent law. The Patent Office site is a source of valuable information (www.uspto.gov). You can also write the Patent Office at Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450, or phone at (800) 786-9199.
American Society of Inventors, based in Philadelphia
Inventionconvention.com, the home to the National Congress of Inventor Organizations offers Inventing 101, a free basic course for inventors.
The Kaufmann Innovation Network sponsors www.ibridgenetwork.org, where entrepreneurs can find innovations that have been created but are untapped in university laboratories.
Books include several published by Nolo Press and How to Market a Product for Under $500 by Jeffrey Dopkin, and The Independent Inventor’s Handbook, by Louis Foreman
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