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Invention promotion companies - scam or legit?

Tom Kulaga's picture

US Patent Office has info on avoiding invention scamsThe great American dream is to invent something that will make you rich. Unfortunately, there are companies that thrive on scamming the dreamers. We may dream, but there is no quick way to riches. Coming up with an idea is easy. The difficult part is commercializing the invention.

One company that was notorious for scamming inventors was Davison Associates Inc. out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2006 Davison Associates Inc. lost a lawsuit and were required to pay $26 million to inventors. There are other companies who work hard at separating inventors' money from their wallets. That is not to say that there are not legitimate companies that will help inventors, but, as always, the buyer must beware.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has a web page on scam prevention. The Patent Office has a bimonthly publication for the independent inventor community called inventors eye. The February 2010 issue of inventors eye has an article titled Protect Your Innovation: Avoid Scams.

The Patent Office also has a brochure with advice for inventors on how to avoid getting burned by invention promotion companies. The PTO suggests that inventors ask questions before sending money to a promotion, marketing, or licensing company wanting to help the inventor. For example, the PTO suggests asking questions about past success rates. How many inventions did the company evaluate last year? In the past 5 years? How many of those evaluations were positive? How many were negative? How many customers of the company received license agreements? What is the success rate for the company's clients? Read the brochure for more practical information.

The bottom line is that every inventor needs to be on guard to avoid being ripped off. Be informed. Investigate. Ask around before sending someone money.

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