QUESTION: How to turn an idea into a product? I have an idea for a product that is currently not found on the market. Great, right? Except, I have no idea where to start! I've read numerous articles online and so far I believe the route I would want to take would be to obtain a Provisional Patent Application. However, that leaves me with 365 days to turn that into either a Design or Utility patent. Is that correct? Can I reach out to manufacturers prior to a PPA to get a prototype, etc. without my idea being stolen? Looking for the most cost effective approach on testing this product idea. Any insight/guidance is appreciated.
ANSWER: You might start with a non-disclosure agreement with manufacturers. Also, you might file a provisional patent application before communicating with manufacturers. A provisional can be filed as quickly as a few days. A design patent application could be appropriate if what you want to protect is the look of the product rather than the functionality of the product