Knowledge

Free information to help first-time inventors navigate the invention minefield safely.

Services

Impartial, affordable invention research and advice options from experts who care.

Experience

A unique resource that in over 30 years has advised on thousands of invention ideas.

This website is in two parts

The larger part consists of enough free guidance - over 70,000 words of it - to enable you to evaluate, protect and develop your own invention idea. Most of it is effectively a workshop manual of invention, divided into ten Projects. At the end of each Project is a checklist to help you turn it into practical activity.

There’s also a big extra chunk of advice about patenting, by far the most misunderstood aspect of invention. View: Patenting Your Invention - The Ugly Truth'.

The second part consists of a menu of fixed-price research and advice services that we’ve been providing for many years. They’re available if you prefer someone with more experience to look at your idea, or if you want a second opinion. They’re tailored to typical information needs and are priced to be hopefully affordable.

All our services are provided impartially and in complete confidence, and include:

New to invention? Here’s a quick guide.

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Our Projects

10 Step Guide for Inventors

Our aim is to give you the equivalent of a workshop manual of invention. We’ve therefore divided the essential aspects of invention into 10 Projects, each with a checklist to help you turn each Project into practical activity. We’ve called them Projects mainly because these are distinct areas of activity that may not all need tackling in the sequence we’ve given them. In your own interests you must prioritise Projects 1-3, but circumstances may justify changing our running order thereafter, or working on two or more Projects at the same time.

PROJECT 1
Project 1

Is your idea really an invention?

To count as an invention, your idea must contain at least one inventive step that is completely original.

PROJECT 2
Project 2

Competition & market potential

The key discipline of thinking of your idea not as an invention but as a business opportunity starts here.

PROJECT 3
Project 3

Grow it – or throw it?

You now need to decide whether there’s enough justification to take your idea any further.

PROJECT 4
Project 4

Proving your idea

For obvious reasons you need to prove that your inventive step works. That usually means a series of increasingly polished prototypes.

PROJECT 5
Project 5

Protect your idea - and yourself

If you don’t legally protect your intellectual property (IP) you can’t safely disclose it, profit from it or defend it.

PROJECT 6
Project 6

Exploitation routes

You have 3 choices: royalties from a company, known as licensing, or become an entrepreneur, or form a joint venture.

PROJECT 7
Project 7

Raising people and finance

This Project is about improving the resources available to help you exploit your idea.

PROJECT 8
Project 8

Business or project planning

Producing one isn’t many people’s idea of fun, but there are some things you just can’t do without.

PROJECT 9
Project 9

Finding companies

The first step towards a licensing deal is finding the right companies to approach.

and finally…..
Project 10

Dealing with companies.
If you’re aiming for a licensing agreement with a company, this is the last lap. You’ve got a company interested and you want to negotiate a deal that nets you the best royalty rate possible.

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Invention advice email service

This is a deliberately bargain-priced service because there’s no point spending significant money on only the germ (so far) of an idea. An invention advice email can also help if you’ve done your own research but want a second opinion, or an answer to a specific question.

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A Little Help to Start

Use this simple search facility to view patents and other information relating to your invention. You never know what you will find.

Our Patent Search

For any invention idea a prior art search is essential even if you don’t plan to patent your idea. This enables you to find out how original that idea is and what your chances might be of claiming it as your own. Prior art (what’s been done before that’s similar) isn’t just products found in stores or via Google. It’s also any form of documentation of your idea, and that’s a more complex search challenge.

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Research and Report

Invention Idea Due Diligence Research

Research & Report is our oldest and most popular service, which perhaps isn’t surprising as it gives inventors a lot of value for money. In essence it’s an objective, independent and specialist examination of your invention idea to find out how much commercial potential it might have and what your next step(s) might usefully be. Our report consists of the following: Send us details of your idea (see Invention submission process below) and we’ll send you a report within 30 working days that typically includes:

  • A patent search, including details of relevant patents.
  • A search for similar or competing products or technologies.
  • Relevant market information.
  • Our opinion of how the patent and product search findings affect your idea.
  • Advice on how to protect your idea appropriately and cost effectively.
  • Advice on technical and design feasibility.
  • Advice on any other aspect of your idea that you specifically ask about.
  • Our overall judgment of the strengths and weaknesses of your idea.
  • Advice on what to consider doing next.

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Training & Education

We offer tailored training and education to suit your needs. Click the link below to view our training page.

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The Ugly Truth

THE PATENT SYSTEM

Here, there and everywhere they’re given the impression that no matter what their invention, they must patent it if they are to stand any chance of making money from it. Worse, it’s often the first advice new inventors get, from professional advisers who in many cases don’t actually know much about patents. The myth is reinforced on TV programmes like Dragon’s Den where ‘Have you patented it?’ is a routine question, heavy with the implication that you’re a loser if you haven’t.

In practice, there is a lot wrong with this system. So as an antidote, Patenting your invention: the ugly truth lays it on with a trowel. And we make no apologies for weighing up all the complex pros and cons.

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    The only ideas actually available for commercial exploitation at relatively bargain rates – ground-floor opportunities to innovate, in other words – tend to be owned by individuals or small companies. Commercially, there will be some real diamonds to be found here. Yet these are the patentees who, to be very blunt, run the biggest risk of getting screwed by the patent system.
    Graham Barker, Author - A Better Mousetrap, The Business of Invention

Understanding Patent Jargon

All too frequently, intellectual property attorneys use patent jargon and, as a result, others are unable to understand. To reduce potential confusion, the following glossary provides general definitions of a number of frequently used patent terms.

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A Better Mousetrap

THE BUSINESS OF INVENTION

All would-be inventors and innovators need good advice to guide them through the complex process of turning an idea into a success. A Better Mousetrap is our step-by-step 160-page guide to invention, written in plain English by authors with over 30 years’ experience of advising inventors and assessing invention ideas. This book is essential reading to help you avoid mistakes, limit your risk and reduce your costs.

The Ebook (PDF), which is available for download, costs £5.

abettermousetrap, guide for inventors
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