Need Invention Help? Try Inventors Anonymous

Have you started to question whether you next great idea is really great? Need to bounce your ideas off someone?

Myra Per-Lee developed, manufactured, and marketed about a dozen products in a ten year period, most on her own with very little start-up capital. The most successful of her inventions, massage tools for adults, animals and infants, known as Nukkles®, Nuzzles®, and Snukkles®, is still going strong after eight years on the market. Myra lets us in on where inventors go to get their second opinion.

Here's her article:

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Why does everyone call us paranoid just because we don't want to talk about our ideas? I'm mum because I don't want to spend my energy describing projects, when I could be working on them. And more than fear of theft, I fear others hounding me to death about what I'm doing.

Artists don't tend to talk about what they're up to, and they're not called paranoid; artists are "deeply immersed in their work," or "introspective," or some other positive string of adjectives. Anyway, if an artist shows you what he's working on, can you imagine someone saying, "Hmm, uh, right there? I think you need a few more dabs of paint."

But tell someone you are creating a product, and everyone has an opinion to offer. It doesn't matter if they don't understand your concept or anything about the niche you are trying to fill; that doesn't restrain them a bit from having something to say.

"Ah... have you considered putting legs on that snowboard?" or "That's a cute waist pack, but why don't you let your dog carry that stuff around?" I don't know about you, but I have a terrier, and he'll be damned before he moves an inch with the contents of my purse on his back.

This is the one that makes me crazy: "Oh, I saw your idea in a catalog."

"You mean you saw something like my product in a catalog? Which catalog?"

"I can't remember where I saw it, but the thing looked just like what you said you were working on. It had a handle and a brush and..."

"Could you please try to find it?" You can hear no more! This one is good for at least two sleepless nights; maybe more.

If your friend finds the catalog, you'll see that the product is probably NOT what you're working on. But if she doesn't find it, it's going to cost you at least another very careful product search.

Inventor's AnonymousInventor's AnonymousAs an inventor, what you want and need when you share your ideas with friends and family is 1) moral support, and 2) constructive, thoughtful, and timely suggestions. ONLY tell the folks that will give you that. The rest of them will just prove to be irritating distractions.

Here's a thought: talk to other inventors!

Why do you think artists often live in artist communities? They understand and nurture each other. Inventor communities, in my experience, are super supportive and, for those of you who are worried about others stealing your ideas, these groups are pretty safe incubation environments.

In my area, I used to attend a group that called itself Inventors Anonymous. We weren't in "recovery," but we were a support group for each other. I guess somewhere along the line, members decided that if they were going to get anything out of the meetings, they should be able to share their ideas without fear of getting ripped off, so they established an honor code for the group: what is said here, stays here.

Inventors Anonymous was like a warm womb for newbies like me, a would-be family. We shared not only product ideas, but all kinds of resources.

If you can join or establish a small group like this in your area (4 - 8 member is ideal), I highly recommend it. You never know what can happen among like-minded people.


SEE NEXT: Be Like Sherlock In Your Patent Search

Myra Per-Lee
Myra's Blog for Inventors


Jan 21, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Patent, or Trademark

I am a machinist, and I'm produce a decorative finish that I haven't seen used anywhere else. How would one go about finging such an inventor's group to ask the following questions?

Is such a thing patentable? Or would a trademark be more appopriate?