Great Product Idea? What to do Next.

3. Research the Market.

Did you guess that this is my favorite part? This step is the beginning of your detective career. You have to do a very thorough investigation because a) you don't want to waste your time developing something that already exists; and b) you need as much information as possible about possible competition to successfully patent and market your own product.

I like to get out to the stores for my first round of research. That way, I get to see, touch, and see how similar products are marketed. I will look for knowledgeable managers and ask how the products are selling and what people say about them.

Where will your product most likely be found? Grocery stores, pharmacies, sporting goods stores..? Is your idea for a pet item? Then go to PetCo, PetsMart, Wal-Mart, Target, the pet sections of pharmacies and grocery stores, groomers, pet spas... "wherever pet products are sold."

Be emotionally prepared for the product research experience. You will feel absolutely joyous if, after a thorough search, you find absolutely nothing that even comes close to your product. But finding what you were looking for, in this case, can be very disappointing. If you see products on the market that are like yours, don't give up just yet; purchase whatever like items you find and keep searching. Oh, and keep the product tags and sales receipts, just in case....

One of my inventor friends, Mike, has a terrible habit of "overlooking" the product search because he can't stand the disappointment of seeing his ideas already produced by someone else. Once he went so far as to pay some big bucks for a patentability search before learning that his idea was already patented. Then he was curious enough to find it for sale in a specialized pharmacy. Since that experience, it's been tougher for me to keep my promise not to tell him that his newest idea already exists... and I have one. Inventors are a quirky bunch.

If you've come back from your shopping trips empty handed, congratulations. You are now ready to search the Internet for your product. I do my "narrow" searches first; for example I will start searching the term "backscratcher" and then move out towards the broader term "bath accessories," or "personal care." Until you've discovered something (remember, you're the detective), search under every possible term you can think of.

After a thorough market search for your product idea, you reach your first decision point. To continue or not continue: that is the question... we will answer next week.

SEE NEXT: Need Invention Help? Try Inventor's Anonymous


Myra Per-Lee
Myra's Invention Blog

Nov 28, 2006
by Angela (not verified)

Need help please

Hello, I have 2 ideas I think are great and will help. Im a CNA at a nursing home and I have came up with a couple ideas that could make my residents feel better and make our job alittle easier at the same time. I have asked a few people about my idea and the residents so far all of them think its a wonderful idea. The probeblem is thats all I got is the idea. Now what do I do I did read your article but should I get a patient and how do I make a proto type and who do I show or tell this to im totaly lost.Please help if you can.

Nov 28, 2006
by Myra Per-Lee

Need Help Please

Hi Angela... I am writing a series on the invention process. Read: Need Help? Try Inventors Anonymous and Be Like Sherlock In Your Patent Search.

I would not build a prototype until you have conducted your market search (to make sure your invention is not already in use somewhere else) and patent search (to make sure your invention or something very similar has not already been patented).

There's a lot to do before trying to obtain a patent. I'm familiar with the excitement you're feeling right now, but relax a bit and take one step at a time. And keep reading my series, I'll have the next column up any day now under my name.


Myra Per-LeeFeatured

Aug 17, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

great idea but patented

My wife came up w/  a great idea for a certain market.  The problem is that this idea has been patented but in a different market.   The concept and design are the same though.  We researched the specific stores that would apply to this new product and this product is not being carried.  Can I still be able to profit from something that is already patented that is used generally but not targeted to a specific group?

Aug 24, 2007
by Myra Per-Lee

Re: Great Idea But Patented

If the patent covers all of your features, I would contact the patent holder and see if I could license the patent to market it to your specific target group. Maybe you could get an exclusive licence for your market if you have all your ducks lined up, like manufacturer, distributor, etc. Your experience in your market counts for a lot when negotiating an exclusive license.

If you have new elements (substantial as opposed to market) to add to the patent that are not obvious from the original patent, you might be able to patent those elements.

Best of luck to you.

Myra Per-Lee
Featured Blogger

Aug 30, 2008
by Anonymous

how to do a search

I have an idea that could save lives but I dont know how to start a search to see if it is already out there and has a patten? any suggestions.???