Some thoughts for inventors – things I am often asked about

How I started

Things to think about when considering taking out a Patent

Things to think about when considering taking a product you have invented to market.

I am a civil engineer but I was asked to work on a building site – there were particular foundation problems.

When working on a building site I noticed a number of things:

When the decorators arrived on site the amount of water used went through the roof,
When we put cleaners into the houses probably 2/3 of their time was spent cleaning up behind the decorators – the bathroom and the kitchen sinks
When we came to hand over the drains we spent hours cleaning paint out of the manholes.
I saw paint rollers and brushes being thrown away – some of the brushes cost £15 each and some of the rollers more than £10
Some decorators to 30 to 40 minutes to clean their brushes and rollers at the end of the day – these ones never threw their brushes and rollers away – they cost us the equivalent of an hours pay each!
I saw decorators cleaning their rollers under running hydrants – hundreds of litres a minute going to waste.

It set me thinking – especially when I saw some decorators spinning brushes between their hands to throw out the paint.

I set a roller spindle (it was from a u-frame roller holder) in a drill chuck and used it to spin a roller – in seconds most of the paint was thrown out of the roller flock one rinse and a spin and the sleeve was almost like new. I took a brush and fixed the end of the handle in the chuck, it broke almost immediately but it had spun and I could see that the paint had started to fly off the bristles. I knew that spinning was a way to effectively clean brushes and rollers but how to hold them so that the cleaning process could be repeated time after time easily.

I was in full time work with a growing family and never seemed to find time to give to developing my idea – even though I knew it would be worthwhile. I fiddled and fiddled for years before I eventually came up with a method that seemed to work.

The method was so effective I knew there was a market for it but not only that, it would save people hours of cleaning, gallons and gallons of water and other paint solvents. It would save money in water being flushed down the drain and hours of cleaning up sinks etc.

Over the years I had developed a keen interest in DIY and was constantly looking to make things easier and was often coming up with ideas about how things could be done easier but most of them I soon found out had been thought of by others long before me. The one thing however that I never came across anywhere though was my idea about cleaning brushes and rollers.

I thought I had to find a way of getting my idea into the market place. I had heard how people stole good ideas and so I thought I have to protect my idea and sought the advice of a Patent Agent or Attorney. I was very excited as I waited to see him – a number of things were going through my mind – how quickly would it become a source of income and how would I manage to pay this man’s fees. It was over a hundred pound – a huge amount to me back in those days. When at last I was in his office I don’t think I could have been deflated any more quickly. His advice to me was write to a magazine and share my idea with the readers – I may get a £10 best letter prize!

Since then I have sold nearly a 750,000 Dandy Paint Brush and Roller Cleaners!

When I eventually found a Patent Agent who was really helpful one of the first things he said to me was do I think it has commercial value?

I showed him the invention – demonstrated it in his office.

He then put a few other things to me.

Who did I think would pay money for it?

Why would they buy it?

Did I think it would make money?

How would I make it?

How much would it cost?

How would I sell it?

The first appointment lasted about an hour as he put these things to me.

He then told me that the first meeting which lasted about an hour was free of charge but that I should go away and think these things through and then call him. I did and then called for another appointment.

At this meeting he explained the Patent process and the costs. He explained what it would cost and the next steps. He advised me about things that I could myself which would reduce his work and save me money. He gave me a time frame and suggested that I should work hard in the first year to try and get the product into the market.

The results of the first years work would help see if the process was worth continuing.