How to do invention research

One of the first things inventors do wrong is invent something that already exists. In this article, we will go over some tips on how to do invention research on your idea.

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Look For Road Blocks

You should actively be looking for reasons not to proceed with your idea. Not to say if you find one or many reasons not to proceed, that you shouldn’t. Instead, maybe look at those problems as opportunities.

Think of reasons not to proceed as roadblocks that have held back those who came before you from solving the underlying problem you are trying to solve.

Though many before you have experienced the underlying problem, very few have tried to solve it. And even fewer have looked at reasons they couldn’t solve it as opportunities to overcome, rather than reasons to give up.

The most genius part of many of the world’s greatest inventions weren’t actually the invention itself, but the innovative ways they solve the reason no one had solved that problem before. They innovated a way to make their invention possible.

Look for roadblocks, look for reasons that caused those before you to give up. Don’t be afraid to find reasons not to proceed. That’s where the opportunity is, and it is often found in research

Look for Competitors

The point of the initial Market Research stage is to understand how people currently address the problem you want to solve. Not that every product needs to solve a problem, but they all need to serve a purpose. Whatever that problem or purpose is, how do people address it now?

This doesn’t always mean you are only looking for other existing products. Sometimes though they have the problem, they can easily find a way around it, or solve it with items they already have around the house. You have to understand how people currently address the problem, no matter how they do it.

Just because your idea might not have any competition on the store shelves, doesn’t mean there you won’t have competition.

Search Online

The best tactic to address how to do invention research is to spend time searching the internet. This includes Google searching any keyword or phrase variation you can come up with that revolves around your idea.

You should also make sure to search key words revolving around the problem you want to solve. People most often search the problem they want to solve vs the solution someone might have. Advertisers know this and use keywords about the problem itself in their advertising.

It’s also important to take note of any additional keywords of phrases that could describe the problem or your invention. Bust out the thesaurus and look for other ways people might talk about the problem or solution. A lot of times you will notice these keywords simply by doing your normal searches.

Also, at the top of every search result, be sure to click on “All”, “Images”, “Shopping” and “Videos”. Each of those often have unique results you might not have found otherwise. Also search platforms like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.

For this step, you should create a spreadsheet of all the keywords you searched, all the relevant results you found, etc. If you are using InventorGenie’s free Inventor’s Journal, be sure to record the results of this search there.

If someone has talked about the idea online before, you want the best chance of finding it. This includes figuring out what verbiage they might have typed.

Talk to People

The Validation step should follow the research step. In the Validation step, you will be talking to your target customers to get additional valuable information.

But when it comes to how to do invention research, you don’t need to go nearly as in depth. Talking to your target market in the research phase, you are simply trying to find other ways they currently address the problem. For this stage, simply ask people what they do about the problem.

They might tell you more solutions than your internet searches found. For this stage, you might want to read up on how to perform Idea Validation. Just having that process in the back of your mind might help make sure you don’t get false positives from these talks.

For this step, you aren’t talking to them about your solution, you are purely talking about the problem and how they perceive it. You don’t need any kind of NDA or patent because you aren’t disclosing anything about your specific idea.

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Patent Search

When it comes to learning how to do invention research, you must consider patents. However, a patent search is only a critical step to get right when it needs to be. And now isn’t that time.

Right now you only need a preliminary search at best. It’s more important at this stage to not spend money you don’t have too and follow a “Lean” path. Professional patent searches are important, just not right now.

You can search the website, but honestly, Google Patents is often more helpful. It helps if you have a basic understanding of how patents work, but it’s not critical.

This exercise is mostly about doing a preliminary search to see what patents might already be out there. It’s not about determining if you can proceed because you likely don’t have your design finalized anyway.

You can really approach this in a similar way as above, using keywords and phrases. Following patent citations and just immersing yourself into the patent world a little.

Again, for the research stage, you are only really trying to find what else might be out there. Though it’s important to understand, that just because there might be a patent, doesn’t mean there must be a product. The vast majority of patents are not commercialized. That is why your research can’t only rely on what is actively in the market.


Do a good job.

In this stage, it is common for first time inventors to not hear what they wanted to hear early on and let that get them down. This sometimes leads to them not doing as good of job as they should. Or finding reasons to justify or ignore the bad results.

You do this at your own peril, and you are only hurting yourself. You really need to separate your own emotions from what you find, as much as possible.

This is all part of proving or disproving your assumptions as the foundation of your idea. And don’t be afraid to be wrong in your assumptions.

There are many successful inventors who jump right to Invention Research before they even know what problem they want to solve. They use this step to identify problems. Because problems can be opportunities.

So if you realize your target customer indeed does not share your perspective on the problem, maybe they will identify a different problem for you to solve.

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