Ugh! Your Product Already Exists
But This Dreaded Discovery Doesn’t Have to be the End of Your Idea by April Mitchell
FOR MANY INVENTORS, it’s a painful refrain. Now you have to decide how you will face the music.
You have a brilliant idea for a product that you think should be on the market. You have never seen anything like it. You’ve talked to your family and friends about it; they also think it is
a wonderful idea.
It solves a problem, is a massmarket product and could sell for a great price.
But before you get ahead of yourself, you must conduct in-depth research on prior art—i.e., any evidence that your invention is already known. I have often come up with an idea I was excited about, only to do a little research and find the product already existed.
Do early research first
Research is extremely important in the earlier stages of product development. You should look for and know about any product that is similar to yours and tries to solve the same problem as
your product, as well as problems that are similar to the ones you are trying to solve. If you are a regular reader of Inventors Digest, you have seen tutorials involving how to do this research.
Use a variety of keywords when conducting an online search. Click on “images” so you can see any related images using those keywords instead of only links to these products. I highly recommend visiting stores in person to see what is new and if there are any competing products available.
Conduct a patent search on the USPTO website to see if there are any patents for your product. Remember: Most patents for products never make it to the retail space, so there can easily be a patent out there for the exact product you want to create and bring to market. Some people also hire a patent attorney for these searches.
Take a sad song …
Back to the dreaded moment of finding “your” idea on the market when doing your research. There are two ways you can look at this:
• You are on the right track. Enough people have found the problem big enough for there to be a product on the market to help with it.
• Oh, no. Someone else already made my product!
I choose Option 1: Take a sad song, and make it better. What matters now is what we do with this new information. I want to determine how that product is selling, and whether there are improvements that can be made.
Reading the product reviews is a great place to start. See how people are enjoying and reacting to the product, as well as whether there is anything they would change or add to it. Is there something lacking in the product? Is it working as intended? What can be improved? By examining these questions, your market research can help determine how to make “your” idea even better. If you can make the product better, do so. If it is selling like hot cakes as is, move on to your next idea. There is always another idea!