This is part 2 of a 4 part series providing valuable information every inventor should know about invention scams. Last week in Part 1, I covered the premise for scamming your patent, new product idea, or technology. This week in Part 2, we’ll look at who exactly is waiting in the wings to take advantage of an inventor’s ignorance.
Scam Number One
Major scam number one, many members of the patent profession, including patent attorneys and patent agents registered to practice in good faith at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It doesn't take much convincing to suggest to an inventor that they should get a patent on an invention in order to "protect" themselves.
The problem is, most inventors don't realize that in many cases, the patent is not offering them the protection that they think they are getting, and in many cases it is entirely unnecessary to file a patent before performing enough market research as is necessary to determine that the invention will likely not be commercially successful, at least, not enough to pay the expense of patenting.
Certainly there are those circumstances whereby it is essential to file a patent application soon, and often, and patents may be a critical part of your commercialization strategy.
Yet, of the 100's, if not 1000's of invention projects I have been associated with over the past three decades, rarely is it the case that the inventor should run out and incur $5,000 to $10,000 in expenses for patenting as their first investment. Instead, inventors usually come to me after having incurred that expense and for about one-fifth of that amount, and without ever revealing the invention; I can typically determine that the invention is not worth pursuing from a commercial standpoint. What I am talking about is to do a little bit of primary market research.
However, market research is a very hard thing to sell to inventors because most inventors don't think they need research; they don't need someone telling them how great their invention is or whether it will be a successful product because they already know that it will be. They just need someone to go out there and introduce it to the right companies and viola, they will start to receive royalty checks. This brings us to scam number two.
Scam Number Two
Companies in the business of submitting inventions in bulk to companies found in a database. For only $10,000, you can have your invention submitted to 50 or even 100 companies carefully targeted by the company's super duper database. Does it matter to the company whether they have targeted the right companies, or that you ever get a positive response, or even an offer to purchase your invention? Of course not! The invention marketing company has a 99.9% chance that they are going to make money from submitting your invention to at least someone, and only a .1% chance that they are going to make money from you being successful with your invention. So where do you think they are going to invest their resources? Hopefully you are getting enough of this picture to answer this question on your own at this point.
So, if I am a patent attorney and I get the first $10,000 from the inventor then I don't care if they ever market their invention because I got my money first, and besides, the marketing part is not my job, I just file applications. If I'm the marketing company, what do I care if your invention ever makes the market when I can get the first $10,000 from you to send out some form letters to companies found in a database?
If I can prolong the inevitable understanding that your invention is not worth pursuing, then maybe I can sell you some more services along the way, like a virtual demonstration of your invention, or a year's subscription to a dedicated website, and a database drawing attention to your invention, and any number of other services that inventors like to pay for when they have no real justification in doing so.
So now that we have covered what are the classic scams in the invention business, next week, I will cover what is not a scam.
See: Part 1 - Anatomy of an Invention Scam
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.