Hi, Veronica. I am going to right the precise way to market your invention.
-1) First, you need to contact a registered patent lawyer and pay for a thorough (not preliminary) patent search ($750 – $1500 for most inventions).
-2) If your idea is patentable – hire the patent attorney to file a utility patent
If your Idea is not patentable – and if there’s a patent currently in effect (17 years from the date it was granted) – then, move on and invent something else. However, if the patented invention has not been licensed; you could locate the patent holder (contact info. is on the patent) and ask the inventor if the patent is still available for licensing or marketing. As crazy as it sounds, you might be able to work together with the patent holder and form a joint venture (make sure your patent attorney is involved).
-3) If your invention is unpatentable because of an expired patent – then, you can still proceed to develop your invention. Unfortunately, no one will pay you for it because it’s in the public domain. However, if you want to manufacture it yourself and then find distribution outlets (or sell it directly to the public) – you can move forward.
-4) Once your utility patent is filed, you should hire an engineering company to build a working model (prototype). An engineer should assist you to improve the product and make sure that it works properly (have the engineer sign an agreement stating that they’re not co-inventors and not entitled to receive any future patent rights or royalties).
-5) Go on the internet and seek out the type of companies that are selling similar products and find out which companies are making, distributing or marketing such items. Then, have your patent attorney write a letter to companies that might be interested in seeing your prototype and reviewing your patent-pending documents (they’ll need to sign a confidentiality agreement).
-6) If you receive interest from such companies, ask your patent lawyer to follow-up and make an appointment with the interested parties. If any of these companies want to license or buy your future patent rights – let your patent lawyer handle all correspondence and negotiations.
The attorney will advise you about “industry standards” for royalty agreements and typical terms and conditions when a licensing a patent. Give the attorney your input, but listen to the advice being offered to you. I hope that helps you. Good Luck for the future!