What if someone else got to your idea first?

A well know proverb which we’ve all coined from time to time and itself dates from about 2500 years ago when King Solomon was writing Ecclesiastes in his old age. But how can something not being new be good for business?

It’s always an exciting moment when you are doing some patent searching on a new idea and you open up a beautifully written and drawn patent from Victorian times to see that someone had the same thoughts as you centuries before. Many of us are inclined to give up at that moment since our precious idea is no longer ours or is not new or cannot be protected. But on the other hand do you ever really know for sure if you are the first person to have an idea? I don’t think so.

I prefer to take a different and more positive view which is more along the lines of ‘great minds think alike’ or the fact that someone else went to the trouble of solving a problem and then patenting it proves that the problem is worth solving. If that earlier patent had been successful and sold in millions, then you would probably have heard about it without having to dig into the dusty vaults of a patent library.

So after you’ve got over the shock (my heart rate always spikes!) of seeing your best ever idea drawn by someone else don’t give up. Look more closely and you most likely uncover the crucial differences that make your idea the one that will be a big success. Finding evidence of others pursuing the same objective as you is a sure sign that there is a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. And of course you only see rainbows under the sun.