Patent Scams, Scammers, Invention promotion companies, et cetera.
These companies are legendary. They reform themselves and rebuild overnight each time they are shut-down by a government law enforcement agency. Some are quite clever at remaining in business while just barely avoiding everything illegal. Some are quite well known to all who work in the invention business fields. Yet, hundreds of thousands of inventors fall victim to them each yet costing billions in lost money which could otherwise be used to support true promotion of great ideas.
It is simple, here is how it works:
- you get a great idea;
- you approach a company for help;
- the company tells you your idea is fantastic!;
- you get very excited!;
- you borrow lots of money;
- you give this money to the company;
- they send you a ridiculous report confirming your idea is going to be a huge hit;
- you can't seem to contact the company any longer.
This ScamAware page from the USPTO can be printed and set as a reminder or guide as you approach companies to help you with your invention.
Also at the USPTO site, a dedicated Scam Prevention page including a nice updated list of current actions being taken against specific companies. You could check this list to see that the most popular firm Davison who often aggressively advertises via Google AdWords is right at the top on many days. It is painful to see that a strong action taken against Davison in 1997 had no effect – Davison and InventHelp, and many other entities continue to operate as of 2010. Sucking in still further millions of dollars from independent inventors.
Among more notorious of these companies is the folks over at InventHelp aka Invention Submission Corp. InventHelp, easily recognized by their famous trademark:
The company claims as follows:
"From 2003 to 2005, we signed submission agreements with 6,592 clients. As a result of our services, 119 clients have received license agreements for their products, and 15 clients have received more money than they paid us for these services."
Wait a minute! – 15 clients actually made money?! 'I had hoped for better odds than that when I spent $10,000 to get my idea going'.
A privately run organization called the "National Inventor Fraud Center" also provides good assistance to inventors whereby they might avoid falling into the hands of invention promotion companies – who offer little more help that the help to drain your wallet.
Yet another private site also warning of Inventor Scams in a Top 10 list style: ClassBrain
Finding a Legitimate Patent Agent or Attorney
You may wish to use the USPTO system to find a registered patent agent or attorney: OEDCI. If you find that list long and cumbersome as some other might, the as an alternative, you might use a commercial service that lists preferred agents such as: United States Patent Agents.