Invention companies act as agents for inventors submitting their inventions to marketing companies. While there are many reliable and honest invention companies available for inventors, there are also invention companies that scam their clients. These fraudulent companies advertise their services by making inflated claims in advertisements on the internet and television. Here are a few tips for protecting inventors against fake invention promotion schemes. Tips for Inventors
- Take time and investigate before making any important decisions that can affect the invention. It is important for the inventor to investigate the invention promotion company thoroughly before giving them money or their invention or idea.
- Review the Invention Promotion Firm Complaints page of the United States Patent & Trademark Office(USPTO) website. This page lists complaints against fraudulent invention promotion firms.
- Invention promotion companies like to hook clients with larger than life promises. Some companies may offer a free inventors kit. These companies will also claim that your idea has "great market potential", "there’s nothing like it out there", and "we’re ready to move forward with your idea". Other hooks to look out for include: "we want to prepare an in-depth report", "our company has licensed a lot of idea inventions successfully" and "hurry and act now before someone else patents your idea!". The truth is, few ideas, however good they may be, become a commercial success. Be aware going in that investing in an idea is a very high risk venture. If a company doesn’t disclose this, or says your idea is a "can’t miss", it should raise a red flag.
- Ask a lot of questions when choosing an invention firm. Firms are required by law to disclose how many inventions it has evaluated, how many of those received negative or positive evaluations, the total number of clients the firm has, how many of those clients received a net profit after the promoter’s services and how many have had their inventions licensed through the promoter’s services. If the firm is reluctant to answer these questions, avoid them.
- Never make a contract with invention promotion firms that understate the necessity of patent protection. The U.S. Patent Office revised patent program states that the cost for securing the pending patent is $105.00 for small companies (Individuals or companies having less than 500 employees).
- Contact a reputable patent attorney or patent agency to help in finding a good licensing expert who licenses inventions on the percentage basis (no upfront fees). Always do a little research with licensing experts before doing any business with them.
- It is highly important for any inventors to educate themselves about the process involved in the invention and marketing companies. The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have many informative articles for inventors.
Here are a few additional resources on avoiding invention promotion scams:
- Federal Trade Commission: This site provides tips and legal information regarding invention scams.
- US Patent & Trademark Office: This site lists complaints made by inventors against invention promotion companies.
- Scam Prevent: This .pdf file provides information about the tactics of invention promotion companies.
- How to Avoid Scams: A .pdf file offering additional tips for avoiding invention scams.