November 5, 2014

The Next Pet Rock®? Americans Invent, But Don’t Act on It, Says Survey

EAGAN, Minn. – Have you ever dreamed about coming up with the next Pet Rock® or Snuggie®?  It turns out that many of us have come up with ideas for new products and inventions, but very few of us act on it, according to a new survey by, the most popular legal information website.

The survey found that one-third of Americans (32 percent) say they have come up with an idea or invention that they considered patentable.  

The most common ideas from homegrown inventors are for household or personal care products; new toys, games or recreation products; or personal electronic devices. But despite the wealth of new ideas, it turns out that very few people took their ideas beyond the dreaming stage and pursued turning them into actual products that people could buy.

In the end, most people’s dreams of fame and fortune never progressed beyond their sketches and workbenches. Only one in 10 home inventors applied for a patent for their idea or even met with a patent attorney – the first step in obtaining patent protection for an invention.

However, a lucky few say they successfully pursued their idea to the patent stage and beyond. About seven percent of home inventors say they were able to take their idea for an invention and start a business, secure a licensing deal or otherwise bring their product to market.

“The popularity of reality TV shows such as Shark Tank and PBS’ Everyday Edisons may be encouraging people to develop their own inventions,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney-editor at “While the process of taking an invention from the drawing board to retail store shelves can be long and difficult, it can sometimes lead to great success, or at least the satisfaction of seeing one’s idea be brought to completion. But it’s important that would-be inventors protect their ideas, as well as any business agreements that they may enter into, with proper legal safeguards.”

“10 Tips for Inventors” and other free information on how to protect ideas for inventions can be found at FindLaw’s Intellectual Property Center ( It also has a searchable lawyer directory for finding a patent attorney in your area.

The survey was conducted using a demographically balanced survey of 1000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

Note to editors: Full survey results and analysis are available upon request.

FindLaw, part of Thomson Reuters, is a leading provider of business development solutions for small law firms. Through its team of legal marketing experts, FindLaw drives the industry by delivering a comprehensive portfolio of proven online and offline marketing solutions designed to connect law firms with targeted prospective clients. FindLaw is also home to the largest online directory of lawyers and (, the most popular legal website with more than six million people visiting each month for free information about a legal topic, to solve a legal problem or to find a lawyer.

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