From Idea to Grant 101/ How to generate patentable ideas


Ekrem Ayhan Çakay

From Idea to Grant 101/ How to generate patentable ideas

First of all, in order for ideas to turn into a patent grants, their correspondence and diffusion in society must be known. The technology adaptation curve also serves to visualize exactly this function.

Technology Adaptation Curve

This curve depicts a social process in which the value of an invention is perceived (or not) to be worth the cost as viewed in Figure 1. Early adopters generally pay more than those who wait, but if the invention gives them a perceived practical, social, or cultural advantage, members of the population, the popularity of the invention itself, and marketing can all drive the invention over the diffusion chasm. Once the early majority adopts an innovation (in very large numbers), we can expect the rest of the majority to adopt it. By the time the late majority and the laggards adopt an innovation, the novelty has worn off, but the practical benefits of the innovation can still be felt.

Figure 1

In the light of technology adaptation lifecycle, there are some key points worth to attention during the patentable idea generation. 

#1 Recognizing the environment

Most of the patented inventions are not major breakthroughs but incremental though non‐obvious technical improvements over the relevant prior art. Also, some famous inventions represented only a modest advance in fundamental technology and were made by ordinary people or individual inventors. In fact, some famous inventions were based on a chance discovery, insight or a mere accident that produced unexpected results that were not only noticed by a prepared mind but also put to a practical business use by the same or another person.

#2 Identifying pain points

A pain point is a problem that people have with a product or service that might be addressed by creating a modified version that solves the problem more efficiently. For example, you might be interested in whether a local retail store carries a specific item without actually going there to check. Most retailers now have a feature on their websites that allows you to determine whether the product (and often how many units) is available at a specific store. This eliminates the need to go to the location only to find that they are out of your favorite product.

#3 Understanding market and technology requirements

By conducting market research on the pain points you have determined, you can understand the market size, saturation, geographies and approaches of rival companies on segmentation, targeting and positioning. With technology research, advanced technologies that are not yet in the market can be understood and an invent-around can be realized around them, especially by making use of the technical information in patents and articles. Moreover, by examining the current patent portfolios of the main competitors you come across in market research, you can both get an idea about your freedom-to-operate and differentiate your own patentable ideas.

#4 Building and iterating your solutions.

After utilizing market and technology data, breakthrough can be achieved by testing our solutions to our own problems theoretically, through trial and error, through focus groups, simulations, or laboratory experiments. This invention, which is a problem solving method, can be tested many times through iteration and thus a more valuable know-how can be obtained. Later, based on what we observed during the iteration, as many alternative solution methods as possible can be added to the notes of the invention.

#5 Being aware of the fundamentals of patenting

With every inventor having fundamental knowledge of patentability, the whole invention can make the process more efficient. Issues such as whether the invention belongs to technology types such as mechanical, electronic, software, chemical or process, and whether it is basically a product or a method are critical for inventors. In particular, offering alternative solutions is of vital importance in terms of better defending the invention to be patented against the patent office.

Invention process


An invention idea can be developed on paper or on a computer, by writing or sketching, by trial and error, by constructing models, by experimenting, by testing, and/or by fabricating the invention in its entirety. Brainstorming can also help you come up with new invention ideas. Engineers, designers, architects, and scientists regularly use collaborative creative approaches.

The initial idea for an invention may evolve during the development process. It's possible that the invention will get simpler, more practical, extend, or perhaps change into something completely different. Working on one idea can lead to the development of others.

After some time has passed and other changes have occurred, inventions may become more helpful. When powered flying became a reality, the parachute, for example, became more helpful.


Insight: Invention can also rely heavily on intuition. Questions, skepticism, or a hunch can all lead to creative revelation. It could start with the realization that something uncommon or unintentional could be valuable or open up a new line of inquiry. For example, the unusual metallic color of plastic caused by accidentally adding a thousand times too much catalyst prompted scientists to investigate its metal-like properties, leading to the invention of electrically conductive plastic and light emitting plastic, which won the Nobel Prize in 2000 and has paved the way for innovative lighting, display screens, wallpaper, and other products (see conductive polymer, and organic light-emitting diode or OLED).

Re-envisioning: A breakthrough thought might strike in an instant—a Eureka! moment. After years of trying to figure out the general theory of relativity, Einstein's solution appeared in a dream "like a large die producing an indelible impression, a huge map of the cosmos delineated itself in one distinct vision," according to Einstein. Accidental inventions can also happen, like in the instance of polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon).

Improvements: Inventors might try to improve something by making it more effective, healthier, faster, more efficient, easier to use, serve more purposes, last longer, be less expensive, be more environmentally friendly, or be aesthetically different, lighter weight, more ergonomic, structurally different, have new light or color properties, and so on. Suprising effect, long-felt need, exceptional solution and commercial success are the some other expected improvements over the prior art.


#Technology Transfer #intellectual property #patent #idea