Hi and welcome to the third installment in the InCool Comfort Vanity Mirror story.
I remember being very surprised that my concept of a makeup mirror with a fan in the base had not been thought of before. I thought certainly I was not the only women that had the problem of having to put their makeup on while perspiring in a steamy bathroom.
I started asking my clients if they had a similar problem and if they would buy a makeup mirror with a fan built into the base. I heard a few no’s but I also heard enough encouragement that I knew I should push forward.
I found Nolo books at Barnes and Noble. After skimming through a few, I settled in on the 5th edition of ‘Patent Pending in 24 Hours’ and the 7th edition of ‘Profit From Your Idea’. Profit From Your Ideas gives you alternatives to consider if you decide to take your idea in a different direction, such as licensing.
Nolo books are plain-English law books. The books I bought will guide you through the provisional patent process but they also make you think about your product or idea in the right terms. The Patent Pending in 24 Hours book gives you ‘The Seven Hurdles’ and if your idea doesn’t clear all the hurdles you might not want to spend the time or money going the patent route.
After doing the required research I realized my idea was unique and I submitted my provisional patent in September of 2011. I continued to survey my family, friends and clients to make sure I had a product before I started the process of picking a patent attorney.
I decided to go with a patent attorney in Kansas City and I picked him because I liked him at the interview and he also has a product development company. I was new to the world of bringing an idea to a finished product and I thought he would guide me all the way through the process.
I think it is important at this point to remind any budding entrepreneurs reading this blog, that you need to be realistic about what to expect from everyone along the path to bring your idea to life. Remember everyone involved in this process is making a living and, in my experience, even when someone seems truly interested in your idea or product, they have their own agenda. They are trying to figure out how they can make money, not how you can make money. They aren’t bad people but their intentions are not necessarily yours.
My experience taught me that once you agree to work with someone and sign a contract it is still up to you to be diligent. Ask questions and demand answers, especially if you are paying them. You should expect a certain amount of disappointment. At this point you should know if your product has a real market, so don’t let disappointment derail you. Keep pushing forward.
For example, things didn’t turn out as I had thought they would as far as my attorney’s product development company goes. But he got me my utility patent the first time through the examination process and I am told that doesn’t happen often. I just heard that my CIP utility patent, Continuation In Part, on my second product will issue after a small revision to one of the claims.
At each step in this process, please continue to do your own extensive product research to reassure yourself that you have something you believe is original and patentable. If you are still sure of your product, then it would be time to seek out your local inventor’s association or find one online if your town doesn’t have one. There, you will find people that have already been through the process and are willing to talk with you about it. Chances are you could talk with a patent attorney there too.
Next in the InCool Comfort story I will tell you about my $10,000 misstep!