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Invention Scams

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 invention marketing companies usually charge a fee of $400-$800 up front to "evaluate" an idea.

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.

Step 3: The company then usually requests a fee of anywhere from $6,000 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 other invention 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. 

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