Do you have an invention youíd like to market? Wondering whether to use an invention promotion firm?

We asked the Federal Trade Commission to help us with ways to find a legitimate invention promotion firm and avoid being scammed.

We know: Invention Promotion Services


What are invention promotion firms?

Invention promotion firms usually promise to evaluate, develop, patent and market inventions. They may say they provide some of these services, or all of these services.

Are they a rip off?

Some are, yes. It pays to be a smart consumer before you sign any agreement with an invention promotion firm.

How do I tell the good guys from the bad guys?

Many unscrupulous invention firms provide a toll free number to call where you are asked to send in a sketch or description of your invention for a free preliminary review. This is often the prelude to telling you the product is great and asking you to pay fees to them, often in thousands of dollars, to help you bring the product to market.

Reputable licensing agents are very selective about the products and services they choose to represent---and they DO NOT charge large advance fees to the inventor. They expect to make their money on the legitimate royalty fees after they have found a manufacturer for your product.

Watch out-

  • If the invention firm offers to do a free preliminary review of your invention and then is wildly enthusiastic. This may be a sales pitch to get you to begin paying for services.
  • If the invention promotion firm offers services in a two-step process. One involves a research report or market evaluation of your idea that can cost you hundreds of dollars. The other involves patenting or marketing and licensing services, which can cost you several thousand dollars. Donít fall for this. Ask for the total cost of the firms services right from the start. If the sales person hesitates, get off the phone - fast.
  • If the invention firm claims to have special access to manufacturers who may be interested in your invention. Ask for proof. Get the name of contacts at the company. Talk to them, and make sure theyíre not "shills," or people pretending to be representing a manufacturer.
  • If a firm asks you to pay for a "market evaluation" of your product to see what its sales potential is. Many of these reports are bogus.
  • If a firm wants a large advance fee before signing a contract with you. This is a bad sign. Legitimate licensing agents donít ask for advance fees of thousands of dollars.

What should I ask for before I move ahead with a firm?

Before you sign a contract with an invention promotion firm, the law requires the firm to disclose the following information about its business practices during the past five years:

  1. The number of inventions it has evaluated.
  2. How many of those inventions got negative and positive evaluations.
  3. The total number of customers.
  4. How many of those customers received a net profit from the promoterís services.
  5. How many of those customers have licensed their inventions due to the promoterís services.

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