Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions
Self-Lowering Toilet Seat, An Interesting Invention Idea.
If there is one thing that nearly all women dislike, it's the toilet seat being left up after a man has used the bathroom. One might then conclude that a self-lowering toilet seat, if implemented correctly, could be a big seller. After all, you can buy heated toilet seats, and all sorts of unique toilet seats from designer seats to heavy duty seats.
If you do a little patent research you will find that toilets and toilet seats are a popular thing to invent. There are all kinds of patents involving unique toilets and toilet seats including powered toilet seats, spring loaded toilet seats, automatic opening and closing toilet seats and the like.
Obviously none of these fascinating devices have hit it off big... or even little. You certainly never run across one. Although I must say, I was recently in Japan, and in the hotel room there was a toilet that had a control panel that looked like the instrument panel in a Boeing 747. I did not push any of the buttons... couldn't tell which one might be an ejection button.
In order for something like a self-lowering toilet seat to succeed in the market place it has to meet certain criteria, and I think that if it did, it would be marketable and even be a huge seller.
The toilet seat would have to look just like a normal seat. It can't have any mechanisms like springs, cylinders, gears, exposed. Cleaning is the problem. Trying to clean urine off of intricate mechanisms would be a deal breaker. The seat would also have to be just as easy to lift as a standard seat. You don't want to have to pull up on it with both hands.
The ideal self lowering toilet seat would be easy to lift, and then take about 5 - 10 minutes to completely self lower. In addition, it would have to be easy to push the seat all the way down if needed sooner than the seat can completely lower.
The self-lowering mechanism would have to operate without any external source of power and no batteries either. Running an extension cord from the outlet at the sink to the toilet does not sound like something most people would be willing to put up with. Changing batteries is no better. The seat should have no maintenance requirements either.
The seat would also need to fit the existing standard bolt pattern so you could easily replace a standard toilet seat with the self-lowering one.
The seat would have to be priced competitively as well. Most toilet seats seem to sell for around $80-$150. The higher priced ones are "decretive". I would think you would need to keep the price under $100 to have a really successful invention. This means that in volume you would need to be able to manufacture it for $20-$30 each.
However, marketing a single product is typically a nightmare. It would be much better, at least for someone in my position, to sell or license it to a company already making or marketing toilet seats.
If I were confident I could come up with the solution to the self lowering toilet seat and meet my success criteria, what I should do is to build a prototype to make sure I could get it to work right, then seek patent protection.
Once I had patent pending status I could safely approach someone to sell or license it to. Obtaining a patent takes several years and costs $4,000-$5,000, but once you have filed you have patent pending status and are protected.
So for all of you inventors out there searching for a new invention idea, feel free to use this one.
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