The Knack: How to Invent

PEOPLE THINK that you have to be a genius to invent something. That is

quite wrong. Not all inventions have to be scientific or noble; just look

for a need and then see if you can solve it.

For example, someone recently invented little cuffs that go round pram wheels which can be removed once you are inside the house to stop dog mess and what-not getting all over the carpet - a classic case of an invention coming about from someone trying to solve an everyday problem.

If you've got an idea, get the literature from the Patent Office and do a patent search to find out if it's been done before. If not, you can file a patent on your own, but I would always recommend the use of a good patent attorney.

Make a prototype to show to companies - it's worth a million words. If you don't know how to use tools or lack the necessary materials, use a computer to produce the image on a screen, and then take that image and have it made in plastic. Get yourself a business plan and get someone from one of the big corporate accountants to find out the best deal and make a presentation to companies on your behalf - inventors sometimes frighten people off so you need a tame individual in a nice suit to go and explain everything for you in the language that companies can understand.

The most important thing is to suppress the instinct to go down the pub and tell everybody about your bright idea. Remember, once you've disclosed your invention it's in the general domain, in other words, everybody knows about it so you can't claim it to be yours or file a patent on it. So don't talk to anybody. I'm sure this is where the idea of the mad inventor has come from, because if you can't talk to anyone else you end up being paranoid and talking to yourself instead!

Interview By Fiona McClymont

Trevor Bayliss (inventor of the clockwork radio) will be opening Britain's first Academy of Invention later this year. His autobiography, `Clock This!' has just been published