Anatomy of an Invention Scam - Part 4
This is part 4 of a 4 part series on Invention Scams Unmasked. In Part 1, I covered the premise for scamming your patent, new product idea, or technology. In Part 2, I defined who exactly is waiting in the wings to take advantage of an inventor? Last week in Part 3, I shared with you what makes a legitimate service for inventors.
This week, I will be talking about all the companies that offer legitimate services for inventors.
First, let me say I'm a bit biased because I operate an invention marketing company and have for the past 33 years. Of course, I think that my company is one of the good guys, or else I wouldn't be writing an article like this. But, over time, I have recognized other professionals who offer what I think are appropriate services for inventors.
I want to point out that although there are many unscrupulous patent attorneys willing to take your money, there is also a large group of respectful patent attorneys and agents who will treat you right, not necessarily suggest that you hastily go through the patent process when it is unwarranted, and give you sound and helpful advice that may prove invaluable to the success of your invention. There are many prototype services, illustrators, and computer graphics companies who offer solid, straightforward services to inventors for a reasonable price, all of which help you to communicate information about your invention to others to make a determination as to your invention's value.
When it comes to invention marketing companies, however, this all changes. Most of the highly advertised invention marketing companies that I have ever known may very well fall into the scam category.
My favorites list of invention service providers include: Patent Search International, for a straight forward professional patent search for $250. This is a good preliminary step. Lambert and Lambert in Minnesota accepts only a choice few inventors for consumer products on a commission basis and they charge $195 to review an invention.
Many people complain about them because they pay $195 to hear that their invention has been rejected, however, I've seen the report that they do for $195 and I believe that you get more than your money's worth in just understanding the reasons for rejection. Sadly, inventors become infuriated when they hear that 'their baby may be ugly', and want to retaliate against what is probably the best possible service of its kind available to inventors.
Don Debelak has the One-Stop invention service. Although I cannot speak to the overall caliber of his service, I really like the way that he breaks down services so that you can pick the exact service you may need for your particular circumstance, and for a reasonable cost.
The Wisconsin Innovation Service Center offers market research services to independent inventors and entrepreneurs on an ala carte basis, and at the end of any given stage of research you may realize that there are red flags to suggest that your invention is not worth pursuing further. I wish I could provide you with a favorites list longer than this. If you think your company is worthy of being on my favorites list, then I welcome you to share with me and I will gladly scrutinize your service.
One prominent invention marketing company provides services in three phases. The reason for this is because they have found over the years that there are certain points in which you normally determine that an invention is not worth pursuing and each of these three points culminate at the end of each phase. For that matter, when inventors get to the point that they are sitting down at the negotiating table with a company keenly interested in their invention, it is my experience that then there is only a 50/50 shot of getting a successful deal because of either break down during negotiation, attorney's advising against the deal or throwing in road blocks, or inventors being completely unreasonable in refusing to accept terms by the company. Therefore, very few inventors ever make it through all three phases, let alone ever make it to market.
Yet, the US Patent Office and others insist on judging invention marketing companies on "success rate", and in doing so mislead inventors into overlooking the fact that determining "failure", and doing so as early in the game as possible is actually a very GOOD thing. But the process of doing this doesn't much help the 'success' rate of a legitimate invention marketing company.
As such, these so called markers by which to judge the legitimacy of invention marketing companies may, in many respects, be inverse to what you should actually be looking for. Again, try selling this to an inventor, "Pick only invention marketing companies who end up with mostly failures". Say, "what?!?" What I am really saying is, pick those companies who 'successfully' RECOGNIZE failure in the vast majority of instances, and do so sooner rather than later.
It's not always a pleasant milestone by which to rate a company, but then sometimes reality can be sobering and necessary, ultimately saving you money, time and grief.
This information is meant to be discouraging, only to the extent that it should 'encourage' you to thoroughly investigate the types of services that you really need. If you are NOT approaching this from the standpoint of spending no more time or money than is necessary to find out that your invention may not be worth pursuing further, then you are a ripe candidate for any number of scams, waiting, willing and able to take your hard earned money at each and every step.
Ron Docie, Sr. is President of Docie Marketing and Docie Development. He is the author of The Inventor's Bible, How to Market and License Your Brilliant Ideas, and has successfully commercialized new products and technology for himself and his inventor clients for over three decades.