Invention Submission Services
You've probably seen the ads for those services that supposedly
help you submit your inventions to manufacturers. And it seems
that professional help to market your invention from a company
that knows all the ins and outs is a great idea. But perhaps
you've also heard the stories of people who have spent $15,000
and more for these services, and gotten nothing but general advice
and form letters sent out to potential buyers.
Are you afraid you'll be taken advantage of? You should be.
Not all invention submission companies are entirely ethical.
Even the honest ones can take a lot of your money for no result.
How can you protect yourself when hiring one? Ask the following
questions before you write that check.
1. How many inventions have they evaluated in the last three
years, and how many did they decline to represent? Most inventions
are not marketable, so if the company accepts 90 percent of potential
client's inventions, they are probably more interested in quick
profits for themselves than in helping inventors.
2. Have they ever been investigated by the FTC (Federal Trade
Commission), Attorney general's Office, Better Business Bureau,
or other agencies? What was the result?
3. How many of their customers have made money due to their
services? If they refuse to answer, or to give any examples,
try another company.
4. How many of their customers have received a licensing agreement
as a result of their services? If this figure is less than 5%
of their total customers, try another company.
5. What fees are required up front, and what do you get for
that? Most reputable companies will have smaller fees. They intend
(or hope) to make money from royalty agreements they get for
you. Don't you want a company that is betting on your invention?
6. Can you get names and numbers of previous customers. Get
several from your area, and if they can't give you any, be suspicious.
7. Do they give you a detailed, written opinion of the marketability
of your product? (Note: I once paid for a marketability analysis
from a company that does only this, and so should be unbiased.
For less than $200, a guy with many licensed inventions took
a look at my product, and in a detailed report gave good reasons
why it wasn't marketable. I think many invention submission companies
would have told me it was great and gladly taken thousands to
"promote" an invention that in the end wouldn't sell.)
8. Can you get copies of contracts and forms before you pay
the fee? If not, try another company.
9. Who selects and pays for the patent attorney? It should
be you, so the attorney is directly representing you.
Even if you are a great inventor, you may know nothing about
patenting, selling or licensing an invention. That's why these
companies exist. But before hiring one, get satisfactory answers
to these important questions.
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