Article courtesy IP WatchDog |
Inventors need to be cautious and aware of fraudulent invention promotion firms as discussed below. Rarely does a patent agent or patent attorney, registered to practice intellectual property law, own and operate these types of firms, but many do not even employ them. If there is a registered professional present, they typically have little experience. These firms also offer bogus services like a search report that only searches in the US, when an examiner can use any foreign patent, patent application or non-patent literature to bar your patent application. Guidance from a licensed, experienced, Patent Agent, along with the expert advice from organizations like the USPTO will help protect you.
The United States Patent Office also accepts complaints against invention promotion companies as well. While the Patent Office does not investigate complaints or participate in any legal proceedings against invention promoters/promotion firms, they will post the complaints together with any responses they do receive. To see the complaints that have been filed visit USPTO public forum for invention promoters/promotion firm complaints. In order for the USPTO to identify a submission as a complaint, the complaint must be clearly marked or otherwise indicate that it is a complaint filed under the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999. The USPTO has a complaint form; however, use of this form is not mandatory.
Here is a good list of INVENTOR RED FLAGS to look for when dealing with invention and idea promotion companies. This advice was first printed in the April 1996 issue of The Disclaimer, which was the newsletter of the now apparently defunct Inventors Awareness Group, Inc. of Westfield, MA. I also suggest you take a look at Don’t Be Scammed and How Inventors Can Avoid Scams, Traps and Raw Deals. The FTC also has a good set of guidelines available at Spotting Sweet-Sounding Promises of Fraudulent Invention Promotion Firms and more information at Invention Promotion Firms. The Florida Attorney General has information at How to Protect Yourself: Invention Promotion Firms. Additionally, before an invention promotion contract can be established between you and the firm, each invention promotion firm is legally required to disclose the following information in writing:
- The total number of inventions evaluated by the invention promoter for commercial potential in the past 5 years, as well as the number of those inventions that received positive evaluations, and the number of those inventions that received negative evaluations.
- The total number of customers who have contracted with the invention promoter in the past 5 years, not including customers who have purchased trade show services, research, advertising, or other nonmarketing services from the invention promoter, or who have defaulted in their payment to the invention promoter.
- The total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter.
The total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter.
- The names and addresses of all previous invention promotion companies with which the invention promoter or its officers have collectively or individually been affiliated in the previous 10 years. This is particularly important because invention scams routinely go out of business and start operating under different names.
Now, here are some basic rules to know. If you remember these simple rules and exercise caution you will save yourself heartache, disappointment and a lot of money. Read Full Article.