The ABC’s of inventing your dreams

If you want to make it in the world of invention, you’ve got to know and talk the lingo to communicate with the right people to prove you’ve done your homework and are ready for the big time.  The invention process may seem daunting and even confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.  In addition to the invaluable resources and information you’ll be sure to find on Quirky, we’ve provided below a rundown of the need-to-know terminology in the industry and why knowing this information will be critical to your success as an inventor.

3D modeling and printing – the process of printing three dimensional products from a digital file or a virtual blueprint.  The digital design is created from a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file while utilizing either a 3D modeling software or a 3D scanner – the first is for the creation of a completely new object and the latter is used to make a 3D copy of an object/invention already in existence.  From expensive services offered by 3D printing companies to smaller and more compact home 3D printers, it should be fairly easy to understand why this magical technology is so influential to the success or failure of an invention, depending on the object and industry.  The opportunity to see even just a rough model of your invention brings your vision to life and may illuminate new ways to further improve your design.

Abstract – A basic summary of the invention included in the patent application process.  In order to have the best chance of any invention making the journey successfully from conception to reality is the ability of the inventor to see the big picture and to describe the idea as a whole, feasible concept.  Providing an abstract will help the patent office to better understand what your product does and will also aid in the patent search process.

Collaboration – meaning, “To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.”  Yes, we would say that the process of bringing an invention to life is most definitely an “intellectual effort!”  And sure, your idea is YOUR idea, and we’re not asking you to trust your creative genius with just anyone.  But, we are suggesting that you consider collaborating with others who are passionate about your idea, trustworthy and bring valuable and necessary skills to the development of your product.  Quirky’s online community is ripe with designers, writers and engineers who are just itching to help with the world’s next best thing, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help and input.

Entrepreneur – “person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks to do so.”  In a previous blog post, we talk about how fearlessness is a trait commonly found in successful inventors and for good reason.  You may not think of yourself as an entrepreneur at this very moment, but if you’re hoping to strike gold from an invention, you will want to incorporate best business practices utilized by successful entrepreneurs – like taking risks when necessary, or like an article on says, “Define, invest, build, repeat.”

Innovation – a new idea, device, method, or the use of said new idea, device or method.  All successful inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs know that innovation, creative thinking, using new perspectives and always learning – is absolutely critical to success in any industry.

Marketability – “A measure of how well your product or service is perceived or purchased by the consumers.”  In other words, you may have the greatest idea since the light bulb, but if you can’t sell the importance of your idea, concept or actual invention to investors or your targeted demographic, your idea will be dead in the water.  The most successful inventors know that true success comes when people learn about a new product and think “I must have that in my life – I NEED it!”  Convince your audience that your invention will simplify, improve and lighten up their lives and you’re well on your way to a successful innovative endeavor.

Patent – a government-granted license authorizing a right or title for a set period, specifically the sole right to prevent and exclude others from making, using or selling an invention.  There are three different patent subtypes issued in the United States: a utility patent, a design patent and a plant patent – yes, like the green kind that grow in the Amazon.  Though not necessary immediately, filing a patent should be done after determining if an idea or invention is marketable,as the process can be somewhat expensive.  A patent only protects the concept and its owner; it does not guarantee that the invention will go on to be successful in the market or is even feasible to manufacture.

Patent Classification System – a national and international organizational system maintained in part by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office containing patent, technical and other documents that are given a classification based on subject matter, industry, etc.  When performing a patent search, this classification system simplifies and streamlines the process in order to more easily locate patents or patent applications that have already been submitted or are being processed.

Patent search – done individually or professionally, a search of the Patent Classification System within the Patent Office to determine if other patents have already been filed for the same or a very similar invention.  This action is a crucial and potentially time-saving  jump-off point for any invention as it may identify for you ideas that have already been patented, or may provide insight into how to change or alter your idea to stand out from the existing competition.

The “Pitch” – the act of selling the concept of an idea or product to any possible investor, by explaining  and demonstrating through videos, testimonies and more the value of the idea or product to consumers and the market.  Creating a concise, memorable pitch for your invention is a strategic process that should be given significant consideration, as your delivery can make or break chances of taking your creation to the next level financially,

Prototype – a model of a future invention constructed pre-production used for a full service testing of the item or invention as it would actually be used in the real world.  There it is – the first real-life draft of your invention!  And though it’s amazing to finally behold your imagination’s creation come to life, the prototype isn’t meant to be the final product, but more of a test subject.  By putting your prototype’s functionality to the test under real-world conditions and scenarios, you may think up ways to improve the design, user experience, price or any other element of your invention.

(PPA) Provisional Patent Applicationa more informal version of the official patent application, filing this document provides the applicant with a 12-month grace period before he or she would need to apply for an actual patent.  Functioning as a sort of temporary place-holder, a PPA protects an idea or invention for a limited amount of time at a lower cost than an official patent application, and is a safe first step when venturing into the world of inventing and patenting.

Of course, there’s still much to know about the invention industry, and that will take a bit more research, study and practice on your part.  But with resources like Quirky available literally at your fingertips, you’ll get a leg up on the competition and can expand your knowledge as an inventor at your own pace.  Ready, set, learn!

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