For Indianapolis inventor Carmen Davis, her idea slowly began to take shape while working at a job cleaning office buildings. Davis was commonly faced with the pesky task of picking up removed staples. The used staples were always scattered all over the floor and, while trying to remove them from the carpet, Davis often would prick her fingers. That recurring problem led her to search for a solution, perhaps even a solution that tackled the problem at its source.
“I sat down one day and looked at a staple remover, and just thought to myself over and over: how can I make this better?” she recalls.
It’s a common means of inventing really – take an everyday problem and devise a simple solution. Whether it be a wholly original product or an improvement on an existing one, this is the main reason people invent. For Davis, the simple solution was to add a magnet to the staple remover to keep the staples from falling after they’ve been removed. She made drawings that mapped out her invention, but wasn’t sure what to do next.
A few months later, with the idea still stuck in her head, Davis called up and eventually visited her local InventHelp regional sales office. After a good deal of thought, Davis made the decision to purchase InventHelp’s services. InventHelp also referred Davis to an independent licensed patent attorney to help get her idea patented (a process that was successfully completed in November of 2004).
As part of her services, Davis’ invention was submitted to companies in the InventHelp Data Bank, a catalog of businesses who have agreed to review clients’ inventions confidentially. One of those companies, Integrated Merchandise Group (IMG) International, Ltd., saw potential in the idea. After spending time researching manufacturing, IMG signed a licensing agreement with Davis and began the difficult and costly task of developing her invention into a product.
With assistance from Intromark, a company that works to attempt to license InventHelp inventions when substantial interest is expressed, IMG started the process of creating a workable prototype based on Davis’ idea. After an extended period of retooling that included feedback from Davis herself, the staple remover went into production. While Davis has not yet received a financial gain from her invention, seeing a product she conceived come to life has been rewarding in other ways. One of those rewards came on August 14, 2006 when she first received the manufactured version of her staple remover.
“I was just so excited to actually have something to hold,” Davis explains. “It took a long time, but I finally got to see my idea realized and got to hold it in my hand.”
Still, while the product was available for sale on a low production basis, IMG encountered difficulty finding commercial outlets to distribute it. They faced tremendous competition from existing staple removers that already had distribution in major retail outlets and were proven sellers. IMG was eventually forced to end their pursuit of distribution for the Magnetic Staple Remover. This is a familiar quandary for new inventions: even if you build a better mousetrap, how do you get it on store shelves?
There’s no simple answer to that question. As for Davis, she continues to think of new ideas and look for the inspiration that could lead to her next invention.
“I understand now that these things, this process, is difficult and takes time. There was a real long period I spent waiting, hoping to find some interest in this idea when I wasn’t sure if I ever would,” she said. “But I was very pleased with the services I received from InventHelp. From the first illustrations they did to everything after, it really ended up being a positive experience.”
This inventor has not made a financial gain with their invention.