Inventions That Didn't Happen

Inventions That Didn't Happen

The USPTO (United States Patent Office) is full of patents for inventions that did not launch.  At Synthesis we have also seen some amazing ideas that have not materialized in the marketplace.  Why?

This is a tough question to answer, because the reasons are as unique and as diverse as the product ideas.  Obviously the inventors considered their ideas to have value, because so many already have patents for their inventions.  Many of the ideas are truly useful inventions, so why not bring them to market?

To understand the "Why" we must also look at the "What" and the "How".  From our experience with product development through engineering services, the list below contains the top reasons that inventions don't make it.

5 Big Reasons Inventions Don't Get To Market

Inventions That Didn't Happen

  1. Money

    This is the obvious one, but it gets the blame a lot more failures than it should.  Everyone says "If I had the money, then I could develop and sell my product."  Is that really true?  In some cases, yes, but in many cases, if the money was available, then it would just end up lost.

    That might be mean to say, yet I see better decisions made when money is less plentiful.  Of course it takes money to develop a product, and it takes even more money to start production.  That is always true.  And, many great ideas starve for a lack of money - which is truly sad, IMHO.  However, even when the hurdles are large, successful inventions find a way.   In our experience, most often that means giving (or selling) huge parts of the rights to get the help.

    Sometimes it is more about allocating money in the right place and time.  For instance, going back to the beginning of this article, patents are expensive, so maybe you leave that until you are ready for launch.  The USPTO will be OK without your money.

    Money may make the process easier, but lack of it is not the end to possibilities.

  2. Ego

    Maybe this one should be #1.  It is often hard to draw a line between healthy confidence and destructive ego.

    The confidence that brings us to work hard each day on the idea is healthy.  The blinders that make us feel like EVERYONE will want our widget sets us up for failure.  Careful evaluation of the idea (and pivots with the idea) - even careful optimism - bring step by step results.  Paranoia that everyone is out to steal our inventions and ruin us is hogwash.

    The big misguided Ego trips come when we think we know, so we are unwilling to listen.  Yeah, there is a lot of garbage info out there, but listen, learn and figure out what information is valuable, and what is not.  Arrogance is an anchor to success.

    Ego is a teeter-totter requiring a successful balance of confidence with humility.  Of optimism by analysis and listening to others, then for knowing when to discard careless comments.  It is a matter of always flirting with NIH while listening carefully to what the markets (and potential customers) are saying.  Allowing the good to guide development of our inventions, and the misguided to fall to the side.

  3. Inventions Attention

    Great Inventions, But Where Are They?There are a lot of great ideas right now rattling around in the brains of regular folks like you.  They sit and mull and fester trying to germinate.  The operative word is "trying", because if we don't plant the idea with some attention, it won't germinate.

    If I only had a dollar for every person that said  "Well, I've had this idea for years and . . ."  Don't do this to yourself.  Decide and act, or discard it.

    The other aspect of attention is giving the areas surrounding the inventive ideas the attention they deserve.  Has someone else already come up with the idea and patented it?  What about market research and understanding what the market really wants in your area of creation?  If you come up with new improvements, perhaps they are better and an existing patent does not matter - because you can design around it.

  4. Fear

    What if I spend money on a patent, then I can't sell the idea?  What if people don't like it?  My neighbor said .... (this or that).  What if someone steals my inventions?  Then, what if I just can't find the time to do it right?  What if I make a mistake and waste a ton of time and money?

    These are all the words of Fear.  Yes, fear is related to Ego, and it is a strong factor in giving things the proper attention.  Fear paralyzes far too many ideas.  And though you should ask yourself some of the fear induced ideas, you have to get beyond the fear in them.

    It is not the questions that are wrong, it is often way they are asked.  For instance, "What if people don't like it?"  How about "How can I make it appeal to a wide variety of people?"  Obviously some people won't like it, but that does not matter.  The people that do like it will be your customers.

    The antidote for Fear is Faith.  I'm not talking religious faith (though that can certainly be part of it) - I'm talking about a quiet confidence in the ideas as well as in the processes.  Nothing will go just as planned, so taking one step at a time with the guidance of someone who has been there, is one way to conquer fear.  Also, keep in mind that without risk, there is little reward.  Just be smart about it.

  5. Invention Centers

    With every good intention there is a scam waiting to take advantage of it.  And, if you don't know where to turn, there are always plenty of hands outstretched to "help".  Some are genuine and honest, yet there are always those who wish only to take you for a ride.  Get help from reputable folks that keep you at the forefront.  Companies like Synthesis can help you with design and development, and a good attorney is important.  Marketing is probably another place you will need help.

    Invention Centers, or Invention Promotion Companies are mostly scams.  Vultures waiting to feed.  (Yes, I said that with a broad brush.)  They claim to do it all, and they promise to get you first rate royalties.  Basically they promise things that are not in their control to promise.  There may be one that is sincere, but I have not found it.  Just stay away.

    One thing certain, no one cares about your idea (your inventions) more than you.  Please make sure you are firmly in control of decisions with your inventions.  Pick carefully and they will help leverage your possibilities.  In general, stay far away from Invention Promotion Companies.

I know this is a dangerous question, but Do you fall into any of these categories?  Ask those around you.  Some of these are things that are better spotted from the outside rather than from the inside.  If you have inventions, make sure you are not falling into one of these pits.

Useful and Creative Inventions

Please note that in all the discussion above, not once did we mention inventions that are not worth doing.  We believe that if you find the invention to be super useful and wonderful - enough to sink your heart and pocketbook into it - then others will too.  As for how much is another story, and much of that depends on how and when the item is positioned in the marketplace.

Check out the Alenax and the String Bike (from previous posts) as examples.  Some may disregard them as silly, but they both were valued by someone, and certainly have interesting possibilities.

From our perspective, great ideas don't become bad just because they didn't make it into the market.  There is just so much more to successful inventions than the great idea.

Finally, After Launch

Screaming From The Mountain Tops - MarketingTo be complete in the discussion about inventions that don't make it, we have to also mention, even if just in passing, the ones that do go to production, but somehow don't really go anywhere.  This has to be the worst possible position.

For those products, the single biggest reason for failure - from our perspective - after all the product development and prototypes and testing and even production launch - is marketing.  Some comes from not doing proper market research in advance, some is inadequate positioning in the market space, and part is just plain not getting the word out.  We have already discussed these things so for continued reading see Screaming From The Mountain Tops.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  The skills to invent are very different than the skills for success in business.  And, it is our observation that inventors are ripe with the skills to invent, but lack the business sense.  All too often (back to Ego), because they are proud of their inventions, they think that makes them the expert in telling the world about it.  They become blind to the difference in skill sets.  I have seen this far too many times (including bits of it in myself).  Hopefully this is not you.

Good luck with your inventions!  Let us know if we can help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Articles

Unintended Consequences of AI for Small Business

With the evolution of Artificial Intelligence, AI is promising awesome advancements in business efficiency, improved data management, advanced marketing techniques, and so much more.  However, within the buzz of possibilities, unintended effects and disparities are emerging, particularly with AI for small business. How do we, as small business owners, grab the opportunities for growth and […]

Read More
Case Study: Managing Conflicting Constraints

I am looking for a good source of Unobtainium.  With the pandemic in full swing, it's really hard to find.  Yet, the demand keeps growing.  I have a few customer projects that need it to solve conflicting constraints, so if you know

Read More
Another Bicycle Chainring Patent Award

Last month we received notice of yet another bicycle chainring patent award for previous design and engineering.  Of course these patents take a long time, usually years to process, and this one is no exception.

Read More
Why Do We Make Prototypes?

It seems like a lot of work and cost to build a prototype - and perhaps a big unnecessary, expensive step.  Why not just do the design really well, then send it to production?  Why make prototypes?

Read More
Vultures in the Patent World

You have seen them - industries that feed on the success or misfortune of others.  "Ambulance Chasers" are probably the most famous, but it is also in the patent world.

Read More
Synthesis Engineering Services

Always Innovative Product Development & Functional Engineering Consulting!

Copyright © 2024 - Synthesis Engineering Services, Inc.