How to Get Funding for a Patent

You have a great idea for a new product or improvement on an existing one. You want to file a patent to protect your idea. Money will be needed for more than a patent attorney to file your application. You will need product evaluations, patent translations, drawings and illustrations. In addition, you will need to create a prototype. Completing the patent process requires an investment of time and effort.

Funding a Patent

Write a solid business plan to present to potential investors. A great idea is a start, but investors want to see how this new product will make them money. If you cannot write a business plan yourself, hire someone to write it for you. The plan should describe in detail how much money you need, what the money will be used for, how the patented product will be manufactured, marketed, and distributed for sale and what income and potential profits will be generated. Ask for enough money to fund the complete project. A 2004 US Bank study found that 79 percent of small business failures were due to "starting out with too little money." A fully researched business plan will help you avoid this.

Seek out public money through government offices. Many branches of state and federal government have grant and loan programs to sustain a new product through the patent and initial development stages. The US Department of Energy, for example, give grants for the development of inventions that benefit the environment and reduce household energy use. The Small Business Administration offers many types of small business loans, with various terms and repayment plans. Research your state’s economic development office and ask for a list of its startup programs. Many communities have incubator programs that provide funding and assistance for patent applications and startup assistance. Go to your local chamber of commerce, or local college or university, for a list of these incubator sources of public funding.

Present your product for patent to venture capital investment groups for consideration in their next round of funding. Venture capitalists understand all phases of developing and bringing a new idea to market. In addition to providing money, they can guide you to the best professional assistance through the early stages of development, such as suggesting a local patent attorney or patent agent. Venture capital may come with some strings attached. Be prepared to negotiate how much ownership you are willing to dispense in order to get the patent funding you need. Venture capital groups are located throughout the world, and each requires a professional business plan and may require you to present your idea in person.

Tips

  • Search google.com/patents to see if someone already has your idea. This will save you time, money and heartache as you move into the process.

Warnings

  • Be wary of patent assistance offers that require you to do little more than send in money. Ask several attorneys for recommendations on patent assistance before choosing where to spend your money.

References

  • Raising Start up Captial
  • "Inventor's Notebook: A Patent It Yourself Companion"; Fred Grissom and David Pressman; 2008
  • "Nolo's Patents for Beginners"; David Pressman and Richard Stim; 2009