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New Product Idea and Prototype - Now What?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by DistinguishedLawn, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. DistinguishedLawn

    DistinguishedLawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    :usflag: I have had an idea in my head for a product that would help landscape maintenance companies save time and energy when unloading debris from their trailers. I finally created a drawing for it and currently have a company producing my first prototype that will be completed in a week or so.

    This product will be great for smaller companies that don't have the budgets for buying trailers with compactor/dumpers on them or buying a dump trailer that costs a fortune and weighs too much for daily use. My product will be in a couple different sizes to fit different trailer sizes and even a truck bed, and will probably cost around $300-350 as a retail item. It will make the idea of using a pitchfork absolete when it comes to unloading grass clippings, leaves, and lawn debris from your trailer or truck bed.

    I'm sorry that I can't explain much more about the product, but I am just starting to work on my patent application, so I can't reveal much about its design or how it's made. My question is: Now what do I do? I have started three (3) businesses of my own and was awarded the Senior Award for Business Management from Penn State University when I went to school there, so I have a decent amount of business knowledge. But I have never tried to approach other companies to sell my product for me or tried to sell my actual idea to a company so they can make it and sell it on their own.

    Does anyone have any actual experience in a situation similar to this? I don't have much of a budget to devote to making a full product launch of my own, but I know that my product would be well received by lawn companies like mine.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  2. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 4,771

    See if ABC is planning on running Shark Tank again...lol. Honestly, that show and American Inventor are two of my all time favorites. Seriously, once you get your patent, I am guessing you need to start off with as much exposure as possible. Of course Lawnsite is a start, but I would first start off creating a video of the product in use, a Youtube video. I am wondering if you product is anything like the Load Handler. I have one and love it for unloading items out of the pickup.
  3. chadslawncare

    chadslawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    I am a sheet metal designer/programmer by trade; my LCO is my "extra income". I have been designing sheet metal for 20 years and have seen quite a few product developments reach their maturity. My suggestion is to find a good sheet metal company in your area, one that has a laser, and talk with them. Schedule a meeting with their owner or their designer and pitch your idea to them. They can do the initial programming, cutting, forming, welding and get it painted. As far as the marketing end of your idea, ask them if they know of anyone that would market it for you.
  4. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,131

    Back in 2000 I came up with something for disinfecting pruners and handsaws for disifecting the blades while pruning diseases wood. I had a number of working prototypes made and patened them. I priced everything out for my manufacting cost. And then sent prototpyes (once patened) to manufacturers of simular products. I ended up selling the pruner prototype to felco and the saw to corona. It was a nice chunk of change. They only bad part is they are selling it for alot more than we originally thought it would sell for, if I had known the profits sould be tha high i probably would of retained the paten and just sold the rights, or would of had them manufactured and marketted them myself to distributors
  5. DistinguishedLawn

    DistinguishedLawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    The whole patent expense scares me. I'm being quoted $4,000-8,000 to get my product patented. Does that seem out of line? That's the part where I get the "committment jitters". But then I think, I could build these and market them and have the idea stolen shortly after and then I'm out of business.
  6. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,997

    If it isn't worth spending the $4000-8000 to patent it probably isn't worth pursuing. Just sayin...
  7. gunsnroses

    gunsnroses LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 266

    Not sure your whole story.....but once you write up an abstract in great detail, do a patent search first for 6-700.00. You may find it is in conflict with a current patent....then stop there. If no conflict, then proceed to the patent application. You are in the official system for a couple of years (I believe) when you do an official search through the patent office. Find a patent lawyer that has dealt with similar products who knows what he's into and what corrections or additions to your wording or drawing are needed. Example; if your product is manually operated....he may throw in various motorized versions as well to cover more bases. You can do quick checks yourself via google+more+patents.

    good luck and dont build it in China. :usflag:
  8. DistinguishedLawn

    DistinguishedLawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Thanks GNR, that sounds like maybe a more reasonable way to see where my product idea stands before I get too much $$ committed. I have been searching for a while on Google and the Thomas Register, mainly because I wanted to buy the item (that I am now developing) from a company to use it in my spring and fall clean-ups. I assumed that someone had to be making it, but couldn't find anything. I'm at my local debris dumping/recycling center every couple days and never saw anything either, except for the expensive dump trailers and the compactor dumpers that are way beyond my budget...and about 90% of the rest of small landscape maintenance companies. Otherwise, I most often see people using pitchforks, rakes, shovels, and a lot of energy and time.

    I just found out that my prototype is shipping today! So I am excited to get some testing done on my initial design. Now, if that snow would just go away so I can get to some heavy, wet leaves, branches, and debris to start punishing my design.
  9. Turboguy

    Turboguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,972

    Since you have the prototype built you have established an origination date. Even if someone copied your idea you could still get the patent and sue them. Actaully your origination date would be when you sent the drawings to the fabricator. Unless they can prove they started work on the same idea on a prior date you are in the clear.

    It is possible to do your own patent application. If you think your idea is going to make you a million bucks it isn't worth saving the money a patent attorney will cost you. I did it one long, long ago. Now you can do the patent search online. When I did it I had to go to the patent office and wade through a ton of stuff. I believe the filing fee is now $ 1000 or there abouts. Learning how to do it is a bit of a hastle. I found a good book on it in those days and I am sure much of the same info is now online.

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