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I am nervous about sharing my idea without a patent. Have others used this site without a patent?
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First things first. The internet and Google are wonderful tools to find out everything you need to know. If you are even asking this question, it tells me you have not spent the time to research your questions. The more you research and learn, the more you will understand the risks involved with becoming an entrepreneur. Before you spend any money, research your idea and make sure it's original and has not been done before. Is your idea patentable? Understand the difference between design patents and utility patents. Ideas are not patentable - but the product you create to solve the problem and how it works is. Only good ideas are worth ripping off so how do you know if you have a good idea or product? Kickstarter is a great place to find out if there is interest in your creation. Kickstarter is also a great place for competitors to look for new products and innovations they can copy. We have our Skoother Skin Smoother campaign running and have been contacted by at least a dozen Chinese factories that want to do our tooling and manufacturing for us. How many others have seen our campaign and have not contacted us? Domestic and foreign companies scour Kickstarter looking for new ideas. This can be good and bad for your goals. If you have no intellectual property protection, these companies are free to steal your idea. If you do have a patent pending, you may get large companies contacting you to license the exclusive rights to your product and pay you royalties. "Patent Pending" will also scare and deter other companies from copying you. Exposing your idea on Kickstarter is exposing your invention to the world and so you should be prepared. You want to always limit how much risk you take, both financial and how much work and time you put into it. A simple U.S. utility patent will cost usually between $6,000 - $8,000. That's a big risk to take on for an unproven idea! A good strategy is to write a "provisional patent application" yourself. $125. This is a temporary application that last for one year from the time you file it with the USPTO. This application does not need to be written by a professional. You need to explain very clearly, with as much detail as possible with illustrations, photos and descriptions your invention. Show what it looks like, exactly how it works and any other variations of it you can think of. This basically reserves your idea at the USPTO and gives you one year to file an actual utility patent application. The provisional application is your "first to file" protection you need from the USTPO. So you have a choice; You can forget all of the intellectual property protection and just try to make a quick buck from your Kickstarter campaign...or, you can file a provisional patent application for $125, (which makes it legally "patent pending") and then show the world your invention. If your creation proves successful, you can then go ahead and invest in the full utility patent application. You then have a choice of licensing your invention or starting your own company so you can have it manufactured and market it yourself. But...if your brilliant idea is a flop, you've only lost the $125 for the provisional along with the time and cost of your campaign. It's all about risk, and knowledge will always lesson your risk. Learn about patents, look for similar ideas or products. Is there a big enough market for your product and can it be manufactured at a cost that will be at least 1/5th of the estimated retail price? Look up invention sites and advice but beware, most all of them want money from you. So research, research, research yourself! And remember, if your Kickstarter campaign does not succeed, it is not a failure. It is a lesson learned to be applied to your next great idea. The only way you fail is to never take a risk in the first place!Best of luck and never give up!  - Scott Comstock/ TheInventionBrothers.com
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