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The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 went into effect January 2000. A subtitle of the law, call Inventors Rights Act of 1999, provides new protections for inventors.

Before an invention promoter can enter into a contract with you, it must disclose the following information about its business practices during the past five years:

* how many inventions it has evaluated,
* how many of those inventions got positive or negative evaluations,
* its total number of customers,
* how many of those customers received a net profit from the promoter's services, and
* how many of those customers have licensed their inventions due to the promoter's services.

This information can help you determine how selective the promoter has been in deciding which inventions it promotes and how successful the promoter has been.

Invention promoters also must give you the names and addresses of all invention promotion companies they have been affiliated with over the past 10 years. Use this information to determine whether the company you're considering doing business with has been subject to complaints or legal action. Call the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at 1-866-767-3848, and BBB, the consumer protection agency, and the Attorney General in your state or city, and in the state or city where the company is headquartered.

If a promoter causes you financial injury by failing to make the required disclosures, by making any false or fraudulent statements or representations, or by omitting any fact, you have the right to sue the promoter and recover the amount of your injury plus costs and attorneys' fees.

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