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Help With Your First Invention – Separating Idea From Invention


Very often people use the words idea and invention too loosely, never thinking about the precise meaning of these two words. Maybe in casual conversation this practice will suffice; however when one is talking in legal terms, these words have different meaning and one should clearly separate them.

Defining Idea

In legal terminology the word idea means something abstract, something that one cannot feel or touch. For example, you might have an idea on how to improve a hydraulic turbine. However, until you produce proper documentation and technical drawings that precisely explain the inner workings of your machinery, it only remains…an idea, an abstract and vague solution to the problem that you are trying to solve. How to start an invention idea?

Defining Invention

Invention, on the other hand, is well-thought and formalized solution to specific problem.
We are no longer dealing with hypothetical machinery or a process; on the contrary, the design has been carefully analyzed and documented. In fact, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will only grant patent to inventor whose work is well written, with instructions written clearly enough to be understood by the person of similar skill as the inventor. In addition, USPTO encourages inventors to specify the so-called “The best mode requirement” – meaning that inventor should disclose the best method used to achieve the desired results.

Should all inventions be patented? How to start an invention idea?  

Should all inventions be patented? In my opinion, inventions that have no practical purpose and unrealistic in their implementation should not be patented. Some inventors become so obsessed with their inventions that they become blind to reality and fail to realize that their invention is impractical. They forge ahead, spending money on patent lawyers only to realize in the end that their invention is just a castle in the sand. In situations like this, all that is needed is a fresh look at the problem at hand. The original idea might have been brilliant, but the inventor has chosen a wrong path in producing unique solution to the problem.


In summary, it is important for an inventor to differentiate between the words idea and invention. This terminalogy comes in handy when inventor is ready to make his next step in protecting his invention by patentining it.



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