A Patent Power® Law Center

   PPLC offers:

   Contact PPLC for
   More Information

SCAMS - Invention Promoters

Every year thousands of inventors try to develop and market their inventions. Some try to sell their invention to a manufacturer that would market it and pay royalties, but finding such a company is difficult and can be time consuming. In frustration some inventors turn to "invention promoters" aka "invention developers," especially the ones that frequently advertise on radio and TV, that promise to evaluate, develop, patent, and market their inventions. Unfortunately, after paying thousands of dollars these inventors too often find that the promoters they hired do little or nothing for their fees.

Most inventors initially believe that their invention should succeed commercially, and so they are tempted to fall prey to fraudulent invention promoters making false and exaggerated promises of commercial success. The promoters take unfair advantage of an inventor's enthusiasm for his or her invention, and too often they fail to tell inventors the real truth that:

• most inventions fail to achieve commercial success in the marketplace; and

• getting a patent is not a guarantee of commercial success.

Such promoters offer free information on how to patent and market your inventions and urge you to call a toll-free number. If you make the call, you will often be asked for a sketch of the invention and confidential information about your idea. As an inducement, the promoter may offer to do a free preliminary review of your invention but too often the "preliminary review" is just a ploy to set up a face-to-face meeting with you so they can high pressure you into a contract.

After the preliminary review, the promoter will often try to sell you on a market evaluation that can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Too often the unscrupulous promoters don't do any genuine research or market evaluations. The "research" is bogus, and the "positive" reports are mass produced in an effort to sell clients on additional invention promotion and marketing services. Fraudulent promoters don't offer an honest appraisal of the merit, technical feasibility, or market potential of an invention.

Promoters often guarantee you a patent, but do not be fooled.  The patent they get for you, for a large fee, is too often a design patent that covers only some ornamental features of your invention but does not protect the important features of your invention, like how it is made or how it works.  Design patents are typically weak, narrow and hard to defend in court, and too often not worth the money spent to get them.

Promoters usually want you to sign a contract hiring them to help you market and license your invention to manufacturers, and requiring you to pay them thousands of dollars in advance. They often claim to represent or have special access to manufacturers who are likely to be interested in licensing your invention. Do not be persuaded by such claims. Ask for verifiable proof such as telephone numbers and email addresses by which you can contact the manufacturers and verify their interest before you sign any contract.

Please be aware that a person may submit a complaint against an invention promoter with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) under U.S. Code of Federal Regulation, Title 37, Section 4.3. Under Section 4.4, If a complaint meets the requirements, the invention promoter named in the complaint will be notified of the complaint and given 30 days to respond. The invention promoter's response will be made available to the public along with the complaint. If the invention promoter fails to reply within the 30-day time period set by the Office, the complaint will be made available to the public. There are other provisions that are aimed at protecting the public against the numerous and devious invention promotion firms.

The bottom line is, if an invention promoter believes that your invention is marketable, then the promoter should be paying you, not the other way around.

 Top