Black inventors hold a unique place in history, whether propelling America forward technologically—Otis Boykin’s improved electrical resistor would later be found in computers, radios, and televisions—or just advancing our playtime—engineer Lonnie Johnson’s Super Soaker is perhaps the most popular water gun. Today, black inventors continue to carve out an indelible niche as creators and businesspeople. Founder of Inventing A-Z, Lisa Ascolese, has been taking ideas; hers and many others, from concept to fruition for over 35 years and counting. The entrepreneur, consultant, and agent has successfully created, patented, marketed, and launched dozens of products on QVC, HSN, national retail stores, and more.
Applying For A Patent
Last year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued 288,335 new patents, reports the QVC shopping company. While all of these new ideas might have been great, not all of them made millions or became the next big household name. Not everyone has the drive, experience, or knowledge to know how to run a successful company based on a product idea.
The Young Entrepreneur Council, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, which generates billions of dollars in revenue and has created thousands of jobs, recently posed the question, What piece of advice do you have for those who are beginning the process of applying for a patent?
Here’s four suggestions their members shared on BusinessCollective, YEC’s free virtual mentorship program platform.
Ask These 3 Questions
“Is my product truly unique? Will I change the design in the next three to five years? Will my product life cycle last more than five years? If the answer is no to any these, think hard before moving forward. The time and monetary cost of filing and receiving a patent can cost you more than it’s worth, especially if the design or market may change.” Josh Sprague, Orange Mud
Start With a Provisional Application
“A provisional patent application provides a chance to refine your patent in the 12 months following the filing date. The process is relatively cheap and quick, and allows you to legally use the term “patent-pending.” Once the application is complete, you can conduct more research into a regular patent. It is best to work with a trusted legal team from the start, even in the provisional stage.” Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports
Interview a Few Experts
“Like any other adventure in life, you have to be prepared. Ask people who have done it what they learned about the process. Conduct interviews with them and be sure to ask what they learned and what mistakes they made in the process, as well as what they would do it again or change next time. Pay for advice if you need to, too.” Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
Consider What Regions You Need to Cover
“Even a solid U.S. patent might not always protect you. Often, people forget that patents are territorial and it’s imperative to consider which regions and markets you will be working in. You don’t always need to secure patents in countries that should not affect you, however, if you have the budget and resources, it’s something every startup with a unique invention or concept should consider.” Kumar Arora, Aroridex