Frequently Asked Questions
Over the past 20 years, the BC Inventors Society has attempted to address the concerns of new inventors and to illustrate the process of developing their idea. This section contains brief answers to the most frequently asked questions and how to spend as little money as possible as you move from a concept to a viable product. If you require more information, please contact us directly.
I have what I think is a great and original idea. What do I do next?
Put your thoughts on paper! You should use a bound booklet, not loose-leaf, and date each entry. Describe what your idea is and what it will do. Make some sketches to clarify your idea. A written record could be important in the patenting process. Make a rough prototype using cardboard, wood, or some other material.
How can I find out if my idea is new?
You can do some initial research by using the internet to do patent and product searches, as well as checking the marketplace - stores that might sell a product like your idea for example. Failure to find anything similar does not necessarily mean your idea is new. You may have to retain a patent specialist to do a comprehensive search, which you will have to pay for.
How can I protect my invention?
First, write a ‘non-disclosure form’. It states that in exchange for you revealing your idea to someone they promise not to convert it to their own use in any way. The form will need to have a good, detailed description of your idea. Have the person date and sign the form before you disclose any information. You should also read through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office websites.
Patenting is complicated and expensive. You will most likely need to hire a patent attorney. Do not rush to patent. You will have to decide whether to invest in a patent based on a realistic evaluation of your invention's market potential. A patent does not give absolute protection. If your patent is infringed on, you will have to pay all the costs to defend it. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has free information defining intellectual property which may be useful to you.
I just want to sell my idea, how can I do that?
An idea is just that until most of the above steps have been taken. Ideas alone are not products. Making a prototype is essential. It need not be very elaborate but it must demonstrate that your idea has merit. Making a prototype also helps you to simplify, fine tune and visualize the finished product, its manufacturing needs, and to more easily describe it for a patent should you decide to get one. Potential buyers or licencees will want the assurance that your product is patentable or, more likely, has a patent. The reality is that you will have to spend money and do most of the work yourself to turn your idea into a product and to prove there is a market for it.
Be wary of companies that promise to research, patent, market or sell your idea or product. Many are not reputable. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website has information about fraud and how to avoid it.
Is the Society for inventors only?
No, anyone who is interested in product development will find membership in the society helpful. There are many benefits to joining the BCIS and attending monthly meetings. Guest speakers cover many topics of interest to inventors and address many of the concerns they have. You will also benefit from networking with other members who are experienced inventors willing to share how they took their idea from concept to a profitable product on the market.