Invention Assessment

What is the purpose of a marketability evaluation?

Should You Have Your Invention Evaluated?. Getty Images

An invention assessment, also called an invention evaluation, marketability research, or product evaluation means looking at your new invention to find out what its market worthiness is. Would anyone buy your invention? Can it be made at the right price?

Purpose of an Invention Assessment

Getting an invention assessment serves two main purposes: one, you find out if it is worthwhile to put more money into a certain idea and two, when you are trying to raise venture capital, sell or license your ideas, you will be ready with the hard facts that can impress a potential investor or buyer.

Only a tiny percentage of patents ever make a profit and it is better for the independent inventor to understand that fact and act upon it.

You are a very creative person by nature, maybe one idea does will not work out but another one might. In a very competitive market, you need to be able to objectively decide if your new invention will be able to do all of the following:

  • Can fulfill a consumer's needs or desires.
  • Can be manufactured and sold at the right price, sold at no more than five times what it costs to make.
  • Can be delivered to market, a way to distribute your product is in place and the market opportunity is established.
  • Can pass safety, legal, environmental and performance expectations or standards.
If your new invention cannot pass all of the above criteria and your intention is to make money, you would be better off moving on to your next idea. It is an excellent idea to evaluate your new invention early in the development stage. You can start with your own opinion and that of close friends, but it is unlikely that you or your friends have an objective opinion or the research ability to understand and determine if your new invention can meet the above criteria.

Use Caution Before Hiring the Wrong People for an Invention Assessment

Many invention promotion firms offer invention or market evaluations, but they cannot give you an objective opinion since they have a stake in the fees they are going to charge you for their services.
If you have not done so already please read Invention Promotion Firms & Avoiding Scams and How To Avoid An Invention Company Scam. These companies fail to tell you that only a small percentage of new inventions make money. They charge you an arm and a leg to patent and market your invention and they do not want you to think your invention could possible fail.

Use a Confidentiality Agreement

Before hiring anyone to make an invention assessment for you, you must first sign a non-disclosure agreement if you have no patent protection.
A non-disclosure agreement (also known as a Confidentiality Agreement) is used when someone with an unpatented idea shows it to another party, and wants that party to maintain as confidential any information.

What an Objective Invention Assessment Professional Can Do For You

A few reputable companies do provide honest assessment services for an up-front fee. Fees for these services range about $175 to $500 and up, some will include a preliminary patent search, some will market your product if they think it is superior.

The forementioned directory lists companies that come with good recommendations from successful independent inventors and inventor groups, for example, the Innovation Assessment Program at Washington State University. They will evaluate your new invention and provide you with a report that covers: environmental impact, potential market, usage learning, service, new competition, production feasibility, investment costs, product line potential, promotion, price, payback period, marketing research, stability of demand, consumer/user compatibility, perceived function, potential sales, safety, societal impact, product life cycle, product viability, durability, functional feasibility, development status, trend of demand, need, appearance, protection, profitability, research and development, distribution, product interdependence and existing competition.

Other companies in the directory will provide similar materials and all of them will let you know what you buying for your money upfront.

That brings us back to point two of why you should conduct an invention assessment, "when you are trying to raise venture capital, sell or license your ideas, you will be ready with the hard facts that can impress a potential investor or buyer." Can you answer all of the questions by yourself that a professional report answers? Do you want to be left speechless at a business meeting? Do you want to appear naive? You can also use an invention evaluation report as a starting place to improve your new invention's marketability. You will have your invention's weaknesses listed and you can try to change them.

A professional invention assessment is invaluable, however, you can do a preliminary self-assessment by yourself.

Continue > Preliminary Invention Assessment

In part one of this feature we discussed the purpose of conducting a marketability evaluation of your new invention. Again, it can be stated that a professional invention assessment is invaluable. However, you can do a preliminary do-it-yourself product evaluation before deciding to hire a professional. Or if your finances do dictate that you cannot hire a professional then a do-it-yourself product evaluation is very important to help you decide if you should spend more money on your invention.

Also check under No Budget Miracles for economical alternatives.

Do-It-Yourself Product Evaluation

Get a pad of paper and write down everything you know about your invention concerning its: legality/regulatory, safety, impact on society including benefits and novelty, aesthetics, performance, profitability, market demand and size, potential for new markets, development status and time to market, manufacturing costs and methods, pricing, competition, consumer appeal, product drawbacks, licensing potential, inventor's reputation or track record, and intellectual property protection status.

Aids to Self Evaluation - Articles & Questionnaires