New Product Development2018-09-13T18:49:24+00:00


2.  Product Development Overview


To Succeed As An Inventor It
Takes More Than Invention:
It Takes Successful Product Development


  • Ideas, inventions, and products are not the same thing.

  • At the end of the day to have an invention eligible for patent protection you will have to be able to communicate at least on paper how to make and use the invention. This distinguishes ideas from inventions that are eligible for patent protection.

  • However, to have a product to sell a customer, you will need more than just something on paper (patent or otherwise). Someone will need to actually manufacture and deliver a real product.

  • It is often much easier to invent something that may be eligible for patent protection, then it is to actually bring a product to market that is a commercial success.

  • Many inventors fail to achieve the success they hope for because they never succeed in turning their invention into a successful product on the market. To succeed with an invention you, and/or someone you team up with, will have to be a successful product developer.

  • There is much more involved in successfully developing a product than simply inventing or getting a patent. It will help greatly increase your chances of success if you first educate yourself about what is often really involved in going from an idea to a successful commercial product. If you are a new inventor then chances are good that there is much more involved than you think there is.
  • This short program is intended to raise your awareness of the business and legal aspects of successful product development, and arm you with knowledge that will hopefully keep you from going down the wrong path and making some potentially expensive mistakes.

  • By educating yourself about the realities of product development you will also hopefully avoid entering into arrangements with organizations or persons who are in the business of taking advantage of person’s enthusiasm for an idea, but ignorance of the realities of product development, and selling inventor’s products or services which are of little or no value.


Common Stages Of
Product Development


  • PHASE 1 – CONCEPT & MARKET INVESTIGATION: This is the "invention" stage of product development. It is here that the idea for the product is "conceived" and the initial steps of designing and/or building an early working model happen. The early design process often begins with the creation of a product specification that describes from a technical/engineering perspective exactly what features the product is to have. A thorough investigation of the market is done as well, with a financial analysis made to see if the investment is justified. Work on securing intellectual property protection also commences in this early stage.

  • PHASE 2 – DESIGNING A WORKING PROTOTYPE: A technical or engineering team is assembled to develop the necessary designs to build a working product. Aside from the functional aspects of the product, the industrial design (or aesthetic features) of the product is also developed. Testing is done on the working designs, and a bill of materials is created, and preliminary manufacturing cost estimate made.

  • PHASE 3 – DESIGNING FOR MANUFACTURE: The working designs arrived at in phase 2 are further refined to take into consideration how the product will actually be manufactured and the components that will actually be used. A prototype, or sample, is built from the actual components to be used in production. The prototype is then tested and evaluated for marketability, useability, durability, function, and appearance. The designs are reviewed to go over all of the technical details, and the financial, legal, and market analysis is reviewed and updated before moving forward.

  • PHASE 4 – PREPRODUCTION: Tooling for the product begins. The product design is further refined based upon the results of testing from phase 3. The bill of materials, schematics, specification, assembly drawings are finalized. The design is thoroughly reviewed with the manufacturer. Orders for parts are placed in quantities to support expected production volumes, and preproduction samples are built and tested for performance, durability, and regulatory compliance.

  • PHASE 5 – PRODUCTION: Tooling for the product is completed. Relatively small volumes of the finished product are made for testing the final product and manufacturing process. Samples of the finished product are submitted for regulatory or certification testing (e.g. Underwriter Laboratories (UL), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), etc. . . ). Beta testing of the product with customers may be performed to get early feedback, and address any problems before large scale production is commenced.


Not every product brought to market will necessarily follow all of the steps of product development set forth above, however it is not uncommon. It is also not uncommon in today’s modern economy to take an approach where the above steps are being done in parallel, at the same time, as opposed to one after the other.


As should be apparent from the above outline of what is often involved in the development of a product for sale, it is a complex, time consuming, and typically very expensive undertaking. Even on a relatively small scale it can easily require an investment of many tens of thousands of dollars before a product is available for sale to customers, and perhaps millions of dollars for mass consumer market products that are sold in very significant volumes.


The justification for making the substantial investment typically required for product development is usually a reasonable hope of making a significant profit. This means that that product development should be approached as the business venture that it nearly always is.

Three Important Things
Every Inventor Should Know
About The Big Picture


  1. Winning Inventors Are Usually Successful Product Developers

    An inventor should always keep front and center in their mind that their success nearly always depends upon their invention becoming a successful commercial product. As such an inventor should be more concerned about whether their idea will be a successful product, then whether it is an "invention". A winning inventor usually thinks and acts like a smart "product developer" as opposed to just an "inventor" with a new idea.


  2. Successful Product Development Is Usually Very Expensive

    While there are exceptions, it is not uncommon for the many aspects of bringing a new consumer product to market to take many months of time, and require the investment of many tens of thousands of dollars (if not much, much more). The great expense comes from the fact that actually making and selling a product in significant volume to paying customer frequently involves:


    • The time and energy of numerous skilled individuals (e.g. engineers, industrial designers, manufacturers, accountants, lawyers, marketing, sales, etc. . . ).

    • A very substantial investment in manufacturing (e.g. tooling, parts, labor).

    • the advertising, promotion, shipping, and customer service needed to sell the product.

  3. Product Development Is Usually A Very Risky Investment

    The world is littered with ideas that didn’t succeed in the highly competitive marketplace. Just because a product is new and available doesn’t mean that it will be a success. Some of the most established companies in the world have spent millions of dollars on products or services that ended up as commercial failures. For every invention that has succeeded in the marketplace, there are probably at least a thousand others that either never made it to the marketplace at all, or were commercial failures. This isn’t necessarily because the idea itself wasn’t good or inventive. It may have failed due to many reasons that had nothing to do with the merits of the idea itself.


What If You Just Want To
Sell Or License The Idea?


If someone is willing to pay for simply an idea or invention, then legally you can certainly enter into such an arrangement. Indeed, the ultimate goal of many individual inventors is to license or sell their product idea. However, the overwhelming majority of such inventors fail to achieve this goal.


The bottom line is that licensing or selling a product idea won’t change the fact that someone will have to turn the idea into a real product in order for them to make money. Licensing or selling an abstract idea or invention on paper simply shifts the burden of developing the idea into an actual money making product to someone else – namely the business the inventor is licensing or selling to.


As mentioned, bringing a new product to market usually involves a great deal of expense and risk. Many uninformed inventors who seek to license their invention fail to fully appreciate this. They don’t understand that what they are really asking a prospective licensee or purchaser to do is undertake this great expense and risk of developing their invention into an actual product.


An inventor who wants to license or sell their product idea will greatly increase the chances of success if they first do work that will convince a prospective licensee or purchaser that the potential return on an investment by them in the product is worth the expense and risk. This may mean doing market research and preparing a solid business plan for presentation to prospective licensees or investors.

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2.  Product Development Overview


To Succeed As An Inventor It
Takes More Than Invention:
It Takes Successful Product Development


  • Ideas, inventions, and products are not the same thing.

  • At the end of the day to have an invention eligible for patent protection you will have to be able to communicate at least on paper how to make and use the invention. This distinguishes ideas from inventions that are eligible for patent protection.

  • However, to have a product to sell a customer, you will need more than just something on paper (patent or otherwise). Someone will need to actually manufacture and deliver a real product.

  • It is often much easier to invent something that may be eligible for patent protection, then it is to actually bring a product to market that is a commercial success.

  • Many inventors fail to achieve the success they hope for because they never succeed in turning their invention into a successful product on the market. To succeed with an invention you, and/or someone you team up with, will have to be a successful product developer.

  • There is much more involved in successfully developing a product than simply inventing or getting a patent. It will help greatly increase your chances of success if you first educate yourself about what is often really involved in going from an idea to a successful commercial product. If you are a new inventor then chances are good that there is much more involved than you think there is.
  • This short program is intended to raise your awareness of the business and legal aspects of successful product development, and arm you with knowledge that will hopefully keep you from going down the wrong path and making some potentially expensive mistakes.

  • By educating yourself about the realities of product development you will also hopefully avoid entering into arrangements with organizations or persons who are in the business of taking advantage of person’s enthusiasm for an idea, but ignorance of the realities of product development, and selling inventor’s products or services which are of little or no value.


Common Stages Of
Product Development


  • PHASE 1 – CONCEPT & MARKET INVESTIGATION: This is the "invention" stage of product development. It is here that the idea for the product is "conceived" and the initial steps of designing and/or building an early working model happen. The early design process often begins with the creation of a product specification that describes from a technical/engineering perspective exactly what features the product is to have. A thorough investigation of the market is done as well, with a financial analysis made to see if the investment is justified. Work on securing intellectual property protection also commences in this early stage.

  • PHASE 2 – DESIGNING A WORKING PROTOTYPE: A technical or engineering team is assembled to develop the necessary designs to build a working product. Aside from the functional aspects of the product, the industrial design (or aesthetic features) of the product is also developed. Testing is done on the working designs, and a bill of materials is created, and preliminary manufacturing cost estimate made.

  • PHASE 3 – DESIGNING FOR MANUFACTURE: The working designs arrived at in phase 2 are further refined to take into consideration how the product will actually be manufactured and the components that will actually be used. A prototype, or sample, is built from the actual components to be used in production. The prototype is then tested and evaluated for marketability, useability, durability, function, and appearance. The designs are reviewed to go over all of the technical details, and the financial, legal, and market analysis is reviewed and updated before moving forward.

  • PHASE 4 – PREPRODUCTION: Tooling for the product begins. The product design is further refined based upon the results of testing from phase 3. The bill of materials, schematics, specification, assembly drawings are finalized. The design is thoroughly reviewed with the manufacturer. Orders for parts are placed in quantities to support expected production volumes, and preproduction samples are built and tested for performance, durability, and regulatory compliance.

  • PHASE 5 – PRODUCTION: Tooling for the product is completed. Relatively small volumes of the finished product are made for testing the final product and manufacturing process. Samples of the finished product are submitted for regulatory or certification testing (e.g. Underwriter Laboratories (UL), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), etc. . . ). Beta testing of the product with customers may be performed to get early feedback, and address any problems before large scale production is commenced.


Not every product brought to market will necessarily follow all of the steps of product development set forth above, however it is not uncommon. It is also not uncommon in today’s modern economy to take an approach where the above steps are being done in parallel, at the same time, as opposed to one after the other.


As should be apparent from the above outline of what is often involved in the development of a product for sale, it is a complex, time consuming, and typically very expensive undertaking. Even on a relatively small scale it can easily require an investment of many tens of thousands of dollars before a product is available for sale to customers, and perhaps millions of dollars for mass consumer market products that are sold in very significant volumes.


The justification for making the substantial investment typically required for product development is usually a reasonable hope of making a significant profit. This means that that product development should be approached as the business venture that it nearly always is.

Three Important Things
Every Inventor Should Know
About The Big Picture


Winning Inventors Are Usually Successful Product Developers:An inventor should always keep front and center in their mind that their success nearly always depends upon their invention becoming a successful commercial product. As such an inventor should be more concerned about whether their idea will be a successful product, then whether it is an "invention". A winning inventor usually thinks and acts like a smart "product developer" as opposed to just an "inventor" with a new idea.

Successful Product Development Is Usually Very Expensive: While there are exceptions, it is not uncommon for the many aspects of bringing a new consumer product to market to take many months of time, and require the investment of many tens of thousands of dollars (if not much, much more). The great expense comes from the fact that actually making and selling a product in significant volume to paying customer frequently involves:

The time and energy of numerous skilled individuals (e.g. engineers, industrial designers, manufacturers, accountants, lawyers, marketing, sales, etc. . . ).

A very substantial investment in manufacturing (e.g. tooling, parts, labor).

the advertising, promotion, shipping, and customer service needed to sell the product.

Product Development Is Usually A Very Risky Investment: The world is littered with ideas that didn’t succeed in the highly competitive marketplace. Just because a product is new and available doesn’t mean that it will be a success. Some of the most established companies in the world have spent millions of dollars on products or services that ended up as commercial failures. For every invention that has succeeded in the marketplace, there are probably at least a thousand others that either never made it to the marketplace at all, or were commercial failures. This isn’t necessarily because the idea itself wasn’t good or inventive. It may have failed due to many reasons that had nothing to do with the merits of the idea itself.

What If You Just Want To
Sell Or License The Idea?


If someone is willing to pay for simply an idea or invention, then legally you can certainly enter into such an arrangement. Indeed, the ultimate goal of many individual inventors is to license or sell their product idea. However, the overwhelming majority of such inventors fail to achieve this goal.


The bottom line is that licensing or selling a product idea won’t change the fact that someone will have to turn the idea into a real product in order for them to make money. Licensing or selling an abstract idea or invention on paper simply shifts the burden of developing the idea into an actual money making product to someone else – namely the business the inventor is licensing or selling to.


As mentioned, bringing a new product to market usually involves a great deal of expense and risk. Many uninformed inventors who seek to license their invention fail to fully appreciate this. They don’t understand that what they are really asking a prospective licensee or purchaser to do is undertake this great expense and risk of developing their invention into an actual product.


An inventor who wants to license or sell their product idea will greatly increase the chances of success if they first do work that will convince a prospective licensee or purchaser that the potential return on an investment by them in the product is worth the expense and risk. This may mean doing market research and preparing a solid business plan for presentation to prospective licensees or investors.


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