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My Idea Uses Existing Devices: How Do I Develop It Further?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 24 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Invention Inventor Marketing Project

Q.

For the last 12 months I've had an idea for a product that I'm quite amazed isn't already on the market. My problem is that it is quite a technically demanding device well beyond my capabilitiy to develop alone. It is essentially an amalgam of three existing devices that would have to be slightly tweaked/improved to create my idea.

Also I would want to incorporate an existing computer program into the unit to improve its practicality.

Basically I've no idea where to start! What would you do?

(D.G, 18 March 2009)

A.

Technical Demands

The starting point is to solve the problem posed by the technical demands of the proposed invention. One option is to enlist the help of a friend or relative who has technical expertise.

Failing this, it may be worth seeking help from a qualified expert on one of the online freelance websites. These are sites where people advertise their services and bid for work. There’s a cost involved, of course, and it’s wise to ask technical professionals to sign NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) before they start work.

Three Existing Devices

Very few ideas are completely original. Most are improvements on existing products or services, and some, as in this instance, are developments of more than one device.

So the fact that a proposed invention is a combination of three existing devices is fine. If a new product is not yet on the market, the general concept is unlikely to infringe existing patents and copyright.

Furthermore, even if an invention uses components patented by someone else, an inventor can still proceed. What he or she needs to do is seek the use of existing components under licence. This happens frequently in the computer industry. A specialist solicitor can give detailed advice.

Existing Computer Programme

Using an existing computer programme for a new invention can be a useful selling point. After all, most home computers use a well-known operating system and make a virtue of this fact.

As with components, an inventor can arrange to pay a licence for the programme’s use.

Where to Start

In the situation described, the inventor should probably create a project plan, and be prepared to commit money.

The project plan must describe the product in as much detail as possible. This is vital if a technical expert is to help. The plan must also outline the stages of the project and establish a budget. To get a rough idea of the cost, the inventor should seek quotes from technical and legal experts as necessary.

Finally, the plan should outline any research about companies that might buy and develop the idea. The other option is for the inventor to set up a company and see the idea through to completion. This may prove costly, and requires marketing skills and careful budgeting. A marketing professional and an accountant may be able to help.

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