The dictionary defines an invention as “a device, gadget or process originated after study and experimentation.” An idea is defined as “a formulated thought or opinion.” With these definitions, you have to wonder how much study and experimentation you have actually done on your idea. Is your idea a tangible solution or simply the recognition of a problem that needs a solution?

How many times have you said to yourself “it would be great if there was a product that could solve this problem”? I have had the same thought many times before. Unfortunately, many times, I was not identifying a real solution but only the need for a solution. Furthermore, I have seen many inventors make the same mistake by confusing their “problem identification” with an actual solution, thus spending unnecessary time focusing on the problem and not the solution.

The real challenge of inventing is not just identifying a need, but also finding a solution. This may seem like common sense; however, I can tell you that I have talked to hundreds of inventors who thought they had an invention, when in fact they had an idea without a well-defined solution.

The inventor can document his invention in one of two ways:

1. Inventor’s notebook or form
Use a bound notebook or invention registration form to record your invention by clearly describing the idea and concept and signing and dating in ink. Also, have two other people sign and date the book or form as testimony to your invention.

The description should include the following: consecutively numbered pages, the purpose of the invention, a detailed explanation of the invention, drawings or sketches, and a list of features and benefits.

2. Disclosure documents
The inventor can use the USPTO “Disclosure Document Program” and submit disclosure documents; however, the method described above is as good or better than filing disclosure documents. The USPTO charges a nominal fee for the presentation of these documents.

Note: Documenting your invention is not a substitute for a provisional or non-provisional patent. The purpose is to establish a registration date for your invention and to provide you with the proper documentation in the event of a dispute.

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