Do you have ideas for a new invention and looking for a company to help you with obtaining your patent or marketing your invention? First of all, it is best to find an attorney to help you to obtain your patent but you will find information in this article to help you protect yourself against invention promotions that are improper or deceptive.
Here are some warning signs that it could be a scam:
1. Television, radio, internet, newspaper and magazine ads that offer a free inventor’s kit or a free preliminary review of your invention. These ads get your attention and target independent inventors with offers of free information that lure you into contacting them and then they have all your information.
2. Salespersons that tell you their firm needs to complete a market evaluation of your idea, which may cost lots of money. The actual research may not be completed but yet the firm may give you a positive evaluation on your idea that is false so they can sell other services to you.
3. It is a sign that it is a scam if the company refuses to respond to your questions in writing. Most legitimate companies will provide their answers to you in writing. Do not believe or accept any verbal promises or assurances.
4. Companies who tell you to describe your idea in writing, mail it to yourself and then not open the envelope.
5. The invention promoter or company only promises you a patent search but no opinion if your invention is patentable. This should always be provided to you.
6. You are guaranteed to get a patent or you will get your money back. No one can guarantee you that your patent will be issued, not even a lawyer.
7. They advise you to apply for a design patent instead. A design patent covers the ornamental appearance of the invention and not the operation of the invention. Therefore, this type of patent has limited applicability to most inventions.
8. It is hard to reach salespeople or the company officials without leaving lots of message or maybe there is no real office location or company.
9. The company tells you that your idea is guaranteed to be commercially successful. Every client is probably told this at some point.
10. The company refuses to provide you with client references. Always get at least five names to contact for a reference. Beware of contacts that have been hired to provide an excellent reference for the company.
11. If the company provides copies of forms and agreements have an attorney review them before you sign them.
The company is required to give you the following information: (a) the total number of inventions that have been evaluated in the past five years, including those inventions that received positive evaluations and those that received negative evaluations; (b) the total number of customers that have contracted with the Company in the past five years; (c) the total number of customers known by the promoter who have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the company’s promotional services; (d) the total number of customers known by the company to have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of the company’s promotional services; and (e) the names and addresses of all previous invention promotion companies with which the invention promoter have individually or collective been involved with in the previous ten years.
You could check the invention promoter or Promotion Company’s Firm Reputation before committing to anything. You could visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.ftc.gov/search/site to conduct a search to find out if the company has been investigated or fined by the FTC. You just need to type in the word “invention” in the search box to conduct this search. You could also check complaints listed on the United States Patent Office Published Complaints webpage which is: www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/using-legal-services/scam-prevention/published-complaints/published.
If you feel you have been scammed you could register a complaint at www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/using-legal-services/scam-prevention. The United States Patent Office will not investigate complaints or participate in any legal proceeding against the invention promoters. The United States Patent Office will accept complaints that are filed against invention promoters or promotion companies, forward those complaints to the invention promotion or company for response and make the complaints and responses available to the public.