Improve your chances of success

If you have an inventive idea, there are simple things you can do to improve your chances of success.

  1. Never disclose your idea to anyone without a confidentiality agreement (Non-Disclosure Agreement).
  2. Visit the Business and Intellectual Property Centre at the British Library either in person or online where there are people who will 'hold your hand' through the process and help progress your idea.
  3. Check thoroughly that your idea is original by doing an online search to see what's available in the market place, but also do an online search of patent databases at the European Patent Office or UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).
  4. Before your spend time and money developing the idea further, do market research to see if people really need it and if they would buy it.  This is tricky becuase you need responses without revealing your ideas - for my non-spill trainer cup, I asked mums if their toddlers spilt juice with conventional trainer cups, how much of a problem this was and would they buy a truly non-spill cup?
  5. For an invention to be successful if must be available at a price that people will pay so work at your idea until your find the simplest solution.  This includes designing your product to match identified materials and manufacturing processes.

So now you know that your idea is viable and it stands a good chance of being successful, what next?

  1. Look at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO)website to learn about the different forms of intellectual property rights (IPR).  It's generally best to protect a product in more than one way e.g. patent, registered design, and trade mark, in case one form of IPR fails.
  2. Go to a patent agent to discuss how your idea can best be protected (although called patent agents or attorneys they advise on all forms of IPR).  A list of registered agents is available from the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA). It is possible to draft a patent yourself, but I would advise against this as it's a skilled job that's best left to the experts.
  3. Setting up your own business to bring a product to market is very challenging and it's advisable to recognise what you do best and to bring in people with other skills.  It's possible to license an invention to a company, so they become responsible for developing it further and bring it to market.  The Business and Intellectual Property Centre at the British Library can help with both approaches.

Invention and bring products to market is hard work, challenging and sometimes scary but most of all it's terrific fun. So if you get a buzz from living on the edge and rising to the challenge...go for it and good luck!



British Library - Business and IP Centre.

IP Advantage - The IP Advantage database provides a one-stop gateway to case studies that chronicle the intellectual property (IP) experiences of inventors, creators, entrepreneurs and researchers from across the globe. The case studies offer insights into how IP works in the real world and how its successful exploitation can contribute to development.

WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 191 member states. Its mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property (IP) system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. View Mandy Haberman case study.

Ideas21 - Ideas 21 is an independent organisation that supports would-be inventors.


Advice originally published in Designing Magazine Designing Magazine


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