“We have been asked why we are providing this information for inventors for free? The answer is simple, the owner is an inventor who has been scammed by invention marketing and invention promotion companies while just trying to bring his idea to the market. He has vowed to provide a honest, factual view of the industry and the companies that make up the industry which include the good the bad and the ugly.”
INVENTION PROMOTION / INVENTION MARKETING COMPANIES - LATEST UPDATED LIST
- DAVISON – Also known as INVENTIONLAND
- INVENT HELP – Previously Invention Submission Company
- INVENTION HOME
- INNOVATION DIRECT – Previously Invent Tech – click here for review
- IDEA DESIGN STUDIO – click here for review
- US PATENT COMMISSION – Previously Invent Worldwide Consulting click here for review
- PATENTLY BRILLIANT – Previously InventSAI now ForSaleByOwner click here for review
- INVENTS – Invention Resource International
- IDEA DEVELOPMENT
- UNITED PATENT RESEARCH
- PATENTS TO RETAIL
- BILLY BOBS GAGS
BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR IDEA HERE IS SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW
There are many fast talking invention marketing firms that prey on the hopes of inventors, make big promises and charge thousands of dollars with a promise to evaluate, develop, patent and market their inventions, and then only send out unsolicited mailers to a random list of manufacturers that are never opened.
These fraudulent invention marketing companies give the honest ones a very bad name. The way they work is by offering the inventor a marketability analysis that touts of high returns if only the inventor moves to the next step which costs upwards of $6,000-$18,000. It is very sad to hear of the good-intentioned inventors who were ripped-off by these companies. So, please beware of these companies (listed below).
How do they work?
Step 1: These companies usually charge a fee of $300-$900 up front to “evaluate” an idea. Some actually have a patent attorney or agent search the invention, but these searches are of widely varying quality. If you really want an honest evaluation of your invention, you’ll want a service which will look at your invention and give you an unbiased evaluation, without any conflict of interest. There are services which will do that for you, for a fee. One of the best known companies, which some of our clients have used, is the I2 Innovation Institute – formerly “WIN” (WalMart Innovation Network) known as PIES study. We’d recommend you contact them first, and listen to their advice, before you spend any money with any kind of marketer.
Step 2: Then they returns a glowing glossy report stating that the idea is immensely valuable and the market is vast. Usually, 99% of the report is “boilerplate”, and only the title of the invention and a page or two in the “search report” describing the invention in broad terms differs from one report to the next. Simply put, they will accept just about any idea becuase they really are not concerned if your idea is commercialy viable or patenable.
Recently we had a patent search done by a patent attorney for a client who had had a search done by an Invention Marketing Company. While the search done by the company did return some patents for devices in the same field, they missed several recent patents for nearly the identical device, which would have been found by a simple keyword search on any of the databases available over the internet, much less by a professional search in the Patent Office.
Another trap for the unwary is to offer a “free patent classification search” – basically nothing more than telling the client that their new mousetrap is classified in class 43 “Fishing, Trapping, And Vermin Destroying”, and providing one or two representative patents from that class. You could easily do this search yourself on google patents.
Step 3: The company then usually requests a fee of anywhere from $1,000 to $18,000, for which they promise to:
a. File a patent application. Unfortunately, most of these companies only file design patent applications, which are generally not appropriate for most inventions or, worse, only a Provisional Application or Disclosure Document. The latest scam is to file a “picture patent” – a utility patent, but so narrow that it is essentially worthless.
b. Display your invention at trade shows. Usually, these are “trade shows of invention marketers,” and you can imagine how little use that is. The only people who will attend are otherinvention marketing firms and sometimes other hopeful inventors.
c. Include your invention in a brochure sent to manufacturers, or to produce flyers and/or videos. Usually, the brochure is a mishmash of assorted inventions whose inventors have paid the company, and is sent to all sorts of unrelated manufacturers. Most manufacturers tend to simply throw these away without looking at them.
In addition to the substantial up-front fees, these invention marketing firms quote a sliding scale of royalties, with the royalty percentage based on the up-front fee (pay more up front, they take less in royalties). They can afford to be generous in these royalty rates. Although these usually look like a good deal to the inventor, in fact they are irrelevant – the company makes its money from the up-front fees, not from royalties they know will never materialize.
YOU HAVE RIGHTS AS INVENTOR, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THEM BEFORE YOU PROCEED.
Your Federal Rights
When Dealing With Invention Promoters
Because so many inventors were taken advantage of there are now laws that give consumers certain rights when dealing with “invention promoters”. At the federal level there is the American Inventor’s Protection Act which requires all invention promoters to disclose the following information to a customer in writing, prior to entering into a contract for invention promotion services:
(1) the total number of inventions evaluated by the invention promoter for commercial potential in the past 5 years, as well as the number of those inventions that received positive evaluations, and the number of those inventions that received negative evaluations;
(2) the total number of customers who have contracted with the invention promoter in the past 5 years, not including customers who have purchased trade show services, research, advertising, or other nonmarketing services from the invention promoter, or who have defaulted in their payment to the invention promoter;
(3) the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter;
(4) the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter; and
(5) the names and addresses of all previous invention promotion companies with which the invention promoter or its officers have collectively or individually been affiliated in the previous 10 years.
A customer who enters into a contract with an invention promoter and is injured because the above disclosures weren’t made, or the invention promoter made other materially false or fraudulent representations or omissions, can sue the invention promoter for the customer’s damages, reasonable costs, and attorney fees. If the false representations or omissions were made willfully, and with the intent to deceive the customer, the court may also triple the damages against the invention promoter. Statutory damages may also be elected by the customer in an amount up to $5000.
While these remedies are significant, inventors still need to be aware that the federal law has a specific definition of who is an “invention promoter” subject to the law, and only protects “individuals” who contract with invention promoters for “invention promotion services”.
Protection Under State Law
In addition to the protections offered by federal law under the American Inventor’s Protection Act, a large number of states have enacted laws to combat fraudulent invention promotion services.
For example, the State of California has an extensive set of laws dealing with invention development services contracts. Under California law invention developers must be bonded, comply with a number of disclosure requirements to customers, treat information received by customers as confidential, and provide quarterly written reports to customers of the services being provided starting six months after a contract is entered into. Under California law, customers also have a right to cancel any invention development service contract within seven days of entering into it and receive all of their money back. Violations of the invention development services law in California gives injured persons the right to sue for the greater of $3000 or three times their actual damages, and also seek attorney fees. Willful violators of the law are also subject to criminal prosecution.
IF YOU DO DECIDE TO GO WITH A INVENTION MARKETING OR INVENTION PROMOTION COMAPNY
We recommended that people ask companies these questions for many years. Since 1999, it’s the law!
The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999On November 29, 1999, Congress passed the AIPA, which for the first time imposed a duty on Invention Marketing Companies to disclose information to prospective clients before they sign contracts. Specifically, a company must disclose:
- Total number of inventions evaluated by the promoter in the past 5 years.
- The number of these inventions which received positive and negative evaluations.
- The number of customers who contracted with the promoter over the last 5 years.
- The total number of these customers who received a net financial profit as a direct result of the promotion services by the promoter.
- The total number of customers who have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of the promotion services by the promoter.
- The names and addresses of all previous invention promotion firms with which the invention promoter or its officers have been affiliated for the last 10 years.
Any customer who has contracted with a promoter and has been injured by an omission to state any of these facts, or any other material fact, or by any material false or misleading statement by the promoter will have a civil cause of action for actual damages or statutory damages of not over $5,000, plus costs and attorneys fees. If the court finds the promoter’s actions to have been willful, taking other complaints into account, the damages may be trebled.
The USPTO has been posting complaints received under the AIPA to their website.