Patenting an invention does not guarantee its success. Before pursuing an invention, review it for these top six traits of successful inventions.

Successful Inventions

Top Six Traits of Successful Inventions

1. The invention meets a need or solves a problem that is clear to your customers.

Even great inventions fail if customers cannot easily see a substantial benefit. The marketplace is noisy and people have short attention spans. You should be able to communicate the benefits of your invention very quickly. Benefits tend to fall into one or more of these categories:

  • The invention reduces cost.
  • The invention increases income.
  • The invention achieves better results.
  • The invention provides a new result or satisfies an unmet need.

2. The invention is strong enough to overcome resistance and competition.

Most people avoid risk and change. If your invention is only marginally better than current technologies, you may have difficulty overcoming the momentum of the industry. Your invention should offer substantial benefits that are relevant to your industry.

3. The invention makes sense to your customers on multiple levels.

It is not enough that an invention provides financial and technical advantages. Many good inventions fail because customers do not perceive them to be a “good fit”. An invention should satisfy implicit requirements that are unique to the industry and the customers:

  • aesthetics
  • custom
  • ego
  • emotion
  • internal politics
  • practicality

4. The invention makes financial sense for you.

Your expected return must be large enough to justify your substantial investment of time, effort and money and the return must occur in a reasonable time frame. Although it is difficult to make accurate financial projections, many inventions can be eliminated after a brief financial analysis. The more you know about the economic landscape the better.

5. The inventor is an industry insider.

Most successful inventions are invented by industry “insiders”. It is difficult for outsiders to accurately evaluate an invention relative to its customers and marketplace. Insiders benefit from a deep understanding of an industry and its subtleties and their contacts help them commercialize inventions.

6. The invention is part of a portfolio.

It is very difficult to make a successful invention on your first attempt. Most successful inventions are part of a portfolio that attacks a problem from different angles. This diversified approach reduces risk and the best solution to a problem usually evolves over time through trial and error.


If your invention does not have all of these traits, do not despair. There are many exceptions to this list. Your invention may have other qualities that could make your invention successful.

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