Being quarantined doesn't mean your creativity has been restricted. In fact, this is the best time to innovate and create. This may be your last chance for some deep thinking before restrictions are lifted.

Once you've identified a problem in the market and a possible solution, here are the next steps to develop your idea and move forward to ensure it is feasible and marketable.

Practical Steps to Successfully Move Forward

  1. Sketch out your idea: Once you have thought about your solution or idea, sketch out what it might look like. Draw flowcharts, schematics, or different views of what your ideal product or innovation might look like or work. Feel free to modify your drawings or do new or different sketches of different variations that might work. This can be an iterative process restricted only by your own imagination. Also, keep a journal of your process of discovery and sign and date new entries. Have a trusted friend sign and date your entries as well. This may be helpful later (if needed) to protect with possible dual inventorship.

  2. Research the possible competition: Research who or if any company is already doing something similar or related, its intellectual property, and whether it is successful. Apart from a Google search, you can use our as a great tool for free patent searching. Sometimes seeing what others are doing will stimulate your creativity.

  3. Prototype your sketches: Develop a minimum viable product (or MVP). Use everyday household items or materials in your lab (if applicable) to "prototype" a solution to an identified problem. It does not have to be perfect or even functional - it simply needs to get the point across. Alternatively, if you are able to make a working prototype, you will often find that this process of engineering a working model and using it can give you a wealth of insights into how best to solve the problem at hand.

  4. Test your idea with potential users: Interview your family, friends, and co-workers about their needs related to the problem, and then, introduce your solution and ask them to try out your prototype. You should let them know that you are experimenting with a new idea that you would appreciate their input, and that they must keep your idea confidential. Also, consider who might distribute your future product and see what insights they might have. Remember not to disclose your ideas to anyone unless they have signed a non-disclosure agreement and/or you have filed a provisional patent application. You can use our easy as a quick, efficient, and cost-effective way to file provisional patent applications online, which we recommend before proceeding further.

  5. Do not be afraid to pivot its purpose or how it would be marketed: Sometimes the best use of a product or idea is not the first identifiable one. Don't be stubborn on fitting a square peg into a round hole. Lean into how a user might prefer to use your idea or who is most interested in your product.

  6. Identify any existing complementary products: Complementary products are just as important as competitive products. Finding products that complement your idea may help you in identifying your product's correct market, how much growth is in that market, and how to properly brand your product.

  7. Start developing possible branding: After creating your product, identifying your market, researching both competitive and complementary products, and determining commercial-ability, you are on your way to developing a marketing strategy. is a free online trademark searching platform that allows users to do a USPTO, Internet, and Domain Name search of your desired brand in one click. This site makes it easy to search existing brands and helps make your brand unique.

  8. Start making phone calls: When you start something new, oftentimes you don’t know what you don’t know. Talking to a professional service provider, such as a patent lawyer, can reveal what you don’t know and help you develop a path to a successful launch. Launching a new product can involve compliance with various rules, regulations, and laws. Sometimes non-compliance can simply be a setback, but sometimes non-compliance can result in a loss of rights. So, you should consider setting up an initial consultation with a patent lawyer who can provide you with initial guidance as to your next steps, who else you should consult, and cautions to be taken. Cislo & Thomas is always available to assist in determining uniqueness of operability and intellectual property protection.

While there is no substitute for a great intellectual property lawyer and we are always happy to help at a higher level, we want to offer and to you and your company as a free or low-cost option.