The Library offers many resources and services to help inventors answer all of these questions. Although most resources are available on the web, some resources may be found at the Main Library in the departments listed.
If you are just starting to perform a preliminary patent search or just want to know more about patents and inventing, see the Library’s Patents, Trademarks, & Copyrights web page. In addition, both the US Patent & Trademark Office and the Patent & Trademark Depository Library Association provide sites devoted to serving the special needs of inventors. The Lemelson-MIT Invention Dimension site also provides a wealth of inventor resources including inventor profiles, patent guidelines, links to online invention resources, and more. See inventorprise.com for useful articles on getting started, provisional vs. full utility patent, patents vs. trademarks, etc. by a patent attorney.
You may also want to attend PatentQuest, a free program offered at the Main Library. For information on the next program date, contact the Information & Reference Department (513-369-6900).
General Marketing & Business 101
Our collection includes hundreds of books to help you better understand the invention marketing process. One online resource worth looking at is Getting Started as an Entrepreneur: A Guide for Students. This is an outstanding primer for anyone starting a new business or wanting to transform their idea into a product or service. Everything from market research and product evaluation to licensing pros and cons are presented.
Richard C. Levy’s book Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cashing In on your Inventions, gives an anecdotal account of the author’s first-hand experiences of successfully bringing his many products to market. This guide helps readers to recognize their potential, avoid rip-off schemes, obtain patent protection and/or licensing, get professional prototypes, negotiate win/win deals, reduce legal expenses, and get expert advice and support with associations, publications, and the web.
Entrepreneur Magazine, located in the Magazines & Newspapers Department at the Main Library, offers business advice from marketing and management to finance and eCommerce.
Inventors’ Digest, also located in Magazines & Newspapers, provides articles on marketing inventions, patent searching, business basics, success stories, and more. Includes Inventor Organizations, Trade Shows and Workshops, and other events.
To find the latest information on licenses granted and available licensers, use License Finder from License magazine. The site also features articles about licensing opportunities and trade shows.
Full text retail journals and other industry-specific journals are useful to scope-out the market potential of your invention. These are located in the Main Library’s Magazines & Newspapers Department as well as some Library Research Databases.
Useful Research Directories & Databases are just a click away
To locate businesses to license or manufacture your product, or to find out how large a market exists for your invention, check out the following resources:
ASM: Annual Survey of Manufacturers, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Annual Publication. Locate national sales figures by product type. Provides indication of how large a potential market is for your product.
Associations Unlimited. A good resource to determine the industry and market size, as well as tradeshow location and dates. Contains information for approximately 460,000 international and U.S. national, regional, state, and local nonprofit membership organizations in all fields, including IRS data on U.S. 501(c) nonprofit organizations. This is also found in the Encyclopedia of Associations, Gale Publishing.
Business & Company Resource Center, brings together in a single database: company profiles, company brand information, rankings, investment reports, company histories, chronologies, and periodicals. This database provides detailed company and industry news and information.
Business Source Premiere. Provides full text for nearly 3,600 scholarly business journals, including many business publications. Coverage includes researching product market potential such as Chain Store Age, Drug Store News, Discount Merchandiser, and some industry specific yearbooks.
ReferenceUSA. Detailed information on millions U.S. companies, organizations, agencies, and households. Search the business database by company name, company officer names, sales volume, SIC codes, number of employees, product lines, and more. Search the residential database by name, geographical area, or phone number.
ThomasNet, the online Thomas Register, lists over 168,000 companies by category under 48,000 product headings. Great starting point to locate the company or product for which you are searching. Provides addresses, phone numbers, asset ratings, and more. Includes images from company catalogs, web addresses, drawings, and more to help with your prior-art searching.
Patent Searching & Intellectual Property Legal Background
To help you determine whether or not you need a patent for your invention, remember the Library offers a free workshop entitled PatentQuest, which provides an overview on the differences between patents, trademarks, and copyright, and instruction on how to conduct a patent search. For information on the next program date and registration, contact the Information & Reference Department (513-369-6900).
If you need the assistance of a patent agent or attorney, the USPTO provides a database to search for Registered Attorneys and Agents.
Patent It Yourself is the bible of patent research, preparation, and submission. The author, David Pressman, is not only an attorney, he is a former patent examiner. This easy-to-follow resource provides all the necessary forms and instructions needed to patent your invention. Also covers commercial aspects of licensing.
Pressman co-authored another book useful for preparing a Provisional Patent Application titled Patent Pending in 24 Hours. A Provisional Patent Application provides a temporary protection, allowing inventors one year to trial market their products and determine whether or not they should invest in an official patent. Not only does this book provide instruction on how to prepare a Provisional Patent Application, it provides robust appendices with complete Provisional Patent Applications and examples, agreement forms, glossary of useful words to describe hardware and functions of invention in specifications and claims, inventor’s notebook guide, and more.
Invention Assessment and Evaluation Services
Entrepreneur Network allows you to locate potential partners, collaborators, and vendors to market your product. Site includes companies searching for new ideas. Also features links to useful research directories such as Thomas Register and other assessment and evaluation services.
Highly recommended by the Inventor’s Council of Cincinnati, the Big Idea Group offers idea hunts, invention advice, company contacts, and regional road shows.
The Innovation Institute assists inventors or manufacturers of new products evaluate the potential of their ideas. Also provides invention assessment and evaluation.
Invention Assessment Guide Picks features lists of consumer, commercial, government and inventor groups with reasonably priced invention assessment and evaluation packages.
Patent Cafe claims that their evaluation service is one of the most comprehensive and most cost-effective invention assessment tools.
QVC Product Search. You could have your product evaluated for possible airing on QVC. Simply submit a QVC Product Information Sheet with a photo or brochure of your product.
The Corporate Office of Science & Technology, a division of Johnson & Johnson, evaluates health care ideas in a staged process designed to provide quick feedback to inventors.
Independent Inventors Beware!
Inventors should use caution when dealing with businesses that claim they can help market inventions, especially those services that advertise on TV. Some inventors have paid thousands of dollars to questionable firms that promised to evaluate, develop, patent, and market their product and received little or nothing in return. The FTC has published many resources to help inventors recognize fraudulent firms. A basic FTC guide with more details is available online.
The FTC also suggests utilizing government and non-profit organizations that provide free, unbiased support. The Library hosts the meetings of the Inventors’ Council of Cincinnati on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00 at the Main Library. The meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, call the Information & Reference Department at 513-369-6900 or the Inventors’ Council at 513-831-0664.
Another organization, the National Inventor Fraud Center educates and assists inventors about invention promotion firms. This site also provides many of the FTC articles for inventors to review regarding caution in dealing with promotion companies. InventorEd provides an Invention Promoter Caution List which is worth browsing before you speak to any Invention Promotion Firm.
Helpful Organizations, Tradeshows, Inventors Councils, and More
Don’t forget, the local Inventors’ Council of Cincinnati offers support and resources to independent inventors. Guest speakers cover marketing, business, and other topics related to inventors’ needs. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Main Library. The meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, call the Information & Reference Department at 513-369-6900 or contact the Inventors’ Council directly at 513-831-0664.
First Stop Business Connection is a program, sponsored by the Ohio Department of Development’s Small Business Development Centers and the U.S. Small Business Administration, providing free state-level information needed to get started or continue on your entrepreneurial journey.
The Licensing Show, sponsored by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, is an annual trade event and conference where consumer product manufacturers, retailers, and marketers come to acquire intellectual property rights, forge merchandising and promotional partnerships, and preview trends that impact consumer spending.
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small businesses nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Call 513-684-2812 for local info.
The Small Business Administration provides information on protecting your ideas, marketing, business start-up, business financing, business opportunities, and laws and regulations for small businesses. Presents hundreds of guides on how to: write an effective loan proposal, deal with financial institutions, and meet necessary legal requirements.
The book Stand Alone, Inventor! by Robert G. Merick, provides basic guidance on prototyping, financing, protecting, licensing, promoting, pricing, marketing, distributing, and retailing your product successfully. Also furnishes a robust 44-page resource section arranged by chapter topics to support library research.
The United Inventors Association (UIA). National inventors’ organization that provides leadership, support, and services to inventor support groups and independent inventors.
Ask the Inventors, a USPTO-endorsed site, features friendly, practical advice from two successful independent inventors.
Texto en español en InventNET—la red de los inventores—liberan ayuda con sus nuevas invenciones y patentan necesidades. Se proporciona aquí como guía básica del inventor en español.