Corporate E-Learning
Sunday, July 31, 2005
5 Steps for Turning Your Idea Into a Product

Given that "5 Steps for Turning Your Idea Into a Product" was the result an interview of the CEO of, we can expect that it is from the viewpoint (spell benefit to) of patent attorneys. I would say this is a sure way to kill your Internet and business ideas instead, except if you have already made your millions by other means and want to play the patent game for a while.

Two qualifications here:
My argument here applies to business ideas and software concepts. It may not apply to "real" invention.
Success is measured by the real return of any money minus the cost of achieving that.

Your idea

There is no great idea which would not benefit from feedback by the ultimate users. Everybody's approach to a problem is different. A great idea helps solve a problem. Because the way the problem is perceived and approached is different, any solution only meets the perception and approach by a group of users only.

A product will be successful if it can solve a problem for a large number of people, or a big problem for a smaller group of people.

Either way, any great idea will benefit from feedback. The need of secrecy in the patenting process simply means you will not get the feedback you will need to create a better product.

Time Cycle

We are now living in the Internet Time. Any innovation is accelerated by the rapid spread of information.

You will not buy any software which has stopped development. (Are you still using VisiCal or Wordstar?) So is any product from any great idea. If there is no continuous improvement, the product is dead.

A length patent cycle (couple of years) is a complete mis-match to today's time cycle. By the time you completed the patent application, the idea may have become obsolete because the problem which the ideas meant to solve may be disappeared, or has transformed so significantly that the idea encapsulated in your patent is no longer a solution.

Paid off
If we see invention as a business, we need to understand that out of a thousand ideas, only a couple are useful and ever fewer which can become a great product. The patenting process is expensive, very expensive indeed. The upfront cost of patenting has to be balanced against the potential additional revenue which can be generated by the patent. We also need to consider the alternative to NOT to patent. Instead of spending your effort and resources in patent process, what is the additional revenue that you can generate using the effort and resources that you intent to put into the patent process. If there is any benefit towards the patent process, it makes sense to go ahead for it. However, as discussed above, the additional load on the inventor to take care of the patent process may, in fact, cause the product to "miss the boat" or delay potential improvement.

The best advice for any potential inventor is not to patent.
Musings during my journey into elearning implementations for the corporates

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Conversation With My Evil Twin Learning for 2020  Asynchronous Collaborative Learning Activities

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