Patents can give you the right to exclude others from selling an invention like yours based on protected claims. Utility patents are the most common type, as they have to do with machines, processes, business methods, articles of manufacture, compositions of matter, and improvements on these. Inventions must be useful, novel, and non-obvious to be granted patent protection. For more information, see the United States Patent and Trademark Office information.
Patents searching can help you determine if someone else already patented your invention and help you gain competitive intelligence. By law, patents disclose enough information that someone in the field could reproduce an invention. Thus, patents can be a great source of technical information. Patent holders may license patents for a fee and could be the basis of your new business, such as those listed on the NDSU Research Foundation's website.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to do, the Small Business Development Center can help you determine out next steps for your business venture.
If you are still exploring your options, SCORE can help you think through business ideas.