Brilliant ideas can come out of nowhere like a bolt of lightning as you consider an unmet consumer need, or they can gradually develop as a result of years of hard work and professional expertise. Once you have the idea for an incredible product, getting a patent may seem like the most important step to take, but it’s not the only step in the complicated process of turning an idea into a money-making product.

While a patent will give you critical legal protection for your idea and prevent other people from stealing your concept and profiting off of your knowledge and hard work, a patent is not the only thing you need to take a brilliant concept and turn it into a marketable, profitable product.

People can patent ideas that don’t even work

Some people will hold forth their patent as proof that a concept or design will function. However, the patent office isn’t particularly fixated on determining the mechanical or scientific validity of a patented item, process, formula or concept. Instead, they simply want to ensure that no one else has patented the same concept.

People can patent the design for a perpetual motion machine, but the machine itself may never take shape. The disconnect between the theory that you patent and the product a company can market is one reason why some people are skeptical of the value of a patent. However, there’s no denying that the patent extends critical intellectual property protections to a creator or inventor, as well as to any company that backs them or purchases their idea.

Protect the idea and make it a reality at the same time

Creating a working prototype may be the simplest way to sell potential customers, clients or investors on your business concept. Finding engineers and production facilities capable of turning your concept into a real, physical product isn’t easy to do. For that matter, neither is the process of applying for a patent from the federal government.

Developing a prototype can help you examine potential pitfalls for the mass marketing of the product early in the development process. For example, if some materials won’t work for the product, an early prototype can help you explore what materials are necessary for full functionality. That knowledge about materials can help you provide more reasonable likely costs to investors or purchasers for your patents.

Make sure your concept is original

Before you invest the time and money in developing a prototype and seeking a patent to protect your concept, you want to make sure that it is your original idea and not something someone else has already patented. It is possible to exert its existing patents, but the process is both tedious and complex, which is one reason why people often outsource it to experts, including patent attorneys.