Educational Consumer Tips
Author: Better Business Bureau
This report is general in nature and is not intended as a reliability report on any company, service or product.
Before entering an agreement with any company offering to perform a patent search, to obtain a patent for you, to determine potential product marketability, or to arrange for either the manufacturing of or the sale of your invention, carefully investigate.
* Secure a written estimate of all potential fees.
* Carefully read and understand the terms of the contract and make sure all verbal agreements and guarantees are put in writing.
* Have your own attorney or agent review any agreement before signing it.
* Check with the BBB for a report on the company.
As of January 2000, The American Inventor's Protection Act of 1999 provided new protection for inventors: the invention promoter must disclose in writing the number of positive and negative evaluations of inventions they have given over a five-year period, and disclose their customer's success in receiving net financial profit and license agreements as a direct result of the invention promotion services. Customers harmed by failure to make required disclosures or by any false or fraudulent representation by the invention promoter can sue to recover statutory damages of up to $5,000, or actual damages.
As of March 16, 2013, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act provided new laws regarding patent filing. One of the new regulations will require patents to be awarded based on a "First to File" system, and no longer a "First to Invent" system. Any patents filed prior to March 16, 2013 will be evaluated using the previous “First to Invent” rules. To learn more information on how this new implementation works refer to First Inventor to File.
Invention marketing is a high-risk venture for inventors. No invention promotion outfit should make any promises of profit or success in developing your idea. Very few ideas or inventions are produced and marketed successfully. The cost of the initial services offered by these companies typically runs in the low thousands. The next phase of services usually referred to variously as "development" or "marketing", can take your total outlay to ten thousand dollars or more. All costs associated with invention development are paid by the individual inventor.
To research more information on patents, go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov or call 1-800-786-9199. The agency provides information on processing patent and trademark applications and disseminating patents and trademarks along with Inventors Resources, Inventors Assistance Center, Roster of Registered Patent Agents & Attorneys and other information to assist independent inventors. Their website also has a public forum for the publication of “Complaints - Invention Promotion Firms" which may assist you.