Inventor’s Guide

This guide will assist the independent inventor through the steps necessary to introduce a product to the market.

Intellectual Property & Start-Up Guides

The North Carolina SBTDC produces the following guidebooks and information to assist the independent inventor.

Intellectual Property Guide – The Intellectual Property Guide is intended for the independent inventor or small company interested in developing new ideas into commercial products. In this guide you will discover answers to most common inventor questions and find guidance on commercializing inventions. The Guide includes patent information, determining whether to patent, patent assignments & licensing agreements, trademarks and copyrights.

Start-up Business & Resource Guide – If your invention idea is to become the basis for a startup company, the SBTDC Start-Up Guide provides insight into entrepreneurship.

Patent Searching & Resources

USPTO Patent Search – Perform a patent search on the US Patent & Trademark Office site to identify similar products. Comparable products usually exist so be certain to thoroughly analyze the patents to determine your product's competitive advantage.

USPTO Frequently Asked Questions – General patent questions are answered at this US Patent & Trademark website.

USPTO Independent Inventor Resources – The US Patent and Trademark Office offers inventor assistance.

Market Research

The great inventor, Thomas Edison understood the best starting point for all inventors, "I find out what the world needs, then I go ahead and try to invent it." The following resources will help your market research efforts.

Industry Analysis – Research the competitive manufacturers of your industry. Become aware of that which is currently offered in the industry before thinking about approaching a manufacturer or a contract manufacturer about your product opportunity. The Thomas Register is one source to research manufacturers as is the state library's online listing of manufacturers.

Become familiar with your industry's trade publications and product catalogs, identify industry associations, attend industry trade shows. Such resources are useful in identifying marketing channels of distribution and industry current events. The Encyclopedia of Associations, a common reference text available in the reference section of the local library, is the primary source to identify industry publications and trade shows.

A variety of internet sites are available to search tradeshows and industry associations including The Marketing Attend the trade shows and study the industry publications to discover what products will be competitive with your new design and to determine if it has enough of a competitive advantage to compete in the marketplace.

Marketing Analysis – Walmart Innovation Network – An option for consumer product inventors is an evaluation by the Walmart Innovation Network. In the area of mass market consumer products, the Walmart evaluations have proven to be extremely professional. Their evaluators are highly experienced in specific aspects of the retail industry and provide expert recommendations. Furthermore, should they judge the product to have retail merit, Walmart assists with its commercialization. At $175, the WIN analysis is cost effective. Call (417) 836-5671 for additional information.