Posts Tagged ‘patents’

Part 2: Research, “Dang, it’s been done before”, and Patents

It feels as though we have never come up with anything truly, truly original.  What an awful confession coming from an inventor, right?  Sure, we have lots of ideas, but I don’t believe that any of them weren’t influenced by something else we saw or heard somewhere else.  With billions and billions of people in the world today, I’m not sure anyone could say they had an absolutely original idea.  What I am saying is, that your really great idea or my next big money maker has most likely been thought of, possibly patented, or, sorry to say, been made before.

So, the next step in the process is RESEARCH.  It’s time consuming and it’s very important.  We Google everything, check the US Patent Office (USPTO) website, search, check, and then search some more.  The internet is our friend and has made it incredibly easy to search the world for evidence of similar ideas.

The Original Etch-A-Sketch Prototype

The Original Etch-A-Sketch Prototype – a TRUE original!!

So, why do we try if it seems that it’s all been done before?  Well, because it hasn’t, that’s why it’s different.  Even if something is similar, it’s NOT the same and we work on making the iteration different and unique, and therefore, original!  Plus, I need the market research so I can be knowledgable to my client.  I need them to know I have done the research, I know what’s out there, what sold and when, and that I know how and why my idea is totally different than what they have seen.  Inventor Relations people are always more than happy to tell you they’ve seen it before!  I have had to defend our designs often.

Discovering it’s been done before happens to us all the time.  Sometimes we see ideas we have come up with, but not made or sold, being advertised on television.  (That’s a REAL stinger!)  Our kids have asked us more times than I care to remember,  “Hey, Mom, didn’t we come up with that idea too?”   Yep, it’s just part of the job.

It’s very difficult to show ideas to Mattel, Hasbro, Spinmaster and other bigger toy and game companies.  Why?  They get the cream of the crop and even the bottom of the barrel of inventors.  In other words, everyone wants to sell to them and they have seen EVERYTHING.  It took awhile, but my skin has finally thickened a bit and I don’t wince now when they say, “Sorry, we have already seen that before…several times.”  The worst was when we were told in a meeting, “I literally saw this same thing from the inventor that came in right before you.”  AAAAARRRRRHHHH!  My piece of advice?  Don’t be an inventor if rejection is a problem for you.  We keep on keepin’ on at Gigglicious because it may not be right for them, but it may be THE perfect item for another company.  (But, honestly, I don’t think it ever becomes easy to hear no…)

Then there is the subject of patents.  We get asked about them a lot.  Do we have them?  Do you patent every idea?  Yes, Ryan has several in his name from previous companies.  Gigglicious does not.  Patenting is expensive and, in our experience, the way toys trend in the marketplace makes it prohibitive.  Trends move too fast and patenting is a long process.  In other words, by the time we would get issued a patent, the toy universe has moved on to something new.  Some inventors patent lots of items, then have the pressure to sell to at least recoup the money they spent getting the patent issued.  That is not to say that we won’t ever choose to patent something we feel would warrant it, but patenting is not in our business model for things we are working on now.

So, if you have an an idea, you’ve done the research to see if it exists already and it doesn’t (don’t stop looking!), then find yourself a patent attorney and get the ball rolling to discuss IP, provisional patents and what is involved with that process.  A patent attorney will be your biggest ally in getting it all done correctly.

“True originality consists not in a new manner, but in a new vision.”  Edith Wharton

“All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson