Submit invention Idea help - 18 Must Ask Questions For invention submission companies

Stop! Read this before you submit invention ideas to anyone!

Submit Invention Idea scams




The United States Patent and Trademark Office has become so inundated with complaints about scams perpetrated on those who submit invention ideas that they offer the following list of warning signs (or "hooks") to watch out for:

  1.  An offer of a "free" inventor kit
  2. Phone calls asking you to pay for an invention evaluation
  3. The evaluation then leads to a request for more money to create a report
  4. The "report", in a nicely bound book, will say that your invention is patentable and marketable, and...
  5. Now there is a need for more money to continue the process of getting a patent and marketing your invention.

18 Must Ask questions When considering hiring an invention Promoter

All legitimate invention submission companies will gladly provide answers to these questions in writing.  Do not accept verbal assurances.

Get it in writing!

I recommend that you go down this list and get answers to every question before you submit invention ideas. I am going to do my best to help you save your hard-earned cash so that you can invest it in ways that will actually move you forward.  

Inventor's Success Tip

"Get these 18 questions answered in writing before proceeding with an invention promotion company."

An asterisk (*) by a question indicates that the company is legally required to answer.

  1. * What is the total number of inventions your company has evaluated for commercial potential in the past 5 years?
  2. How many of those evaluations were positive/accepted by your company? (Beware of an overly high number)
  3. How many were negative/rejected by your company? (Beware of an overly low number)
  4. * What is the total number of your customers who have received a net financial profit as a direct result of your company's promotion services?
  5. What is your company's success rate (the number of clients who made more money from their invention than they paid for your services) over the past 5 years?
  6. * Please provide a list of all the names and addresses of previous invention promotion companies with which your company and/or its officers have collectively or individually been affiliated in the previous 10 years.
  7. What are the names of our company's current officers?
  8. What other names, if any, does, or has, your company used in other states?
  9. * What is the total number of customers that you know of who have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of your company's services? Please provide both the number of customers and the percentage of total customers.
  10. * How many customers have contracted with you for promotional services in the last 5 years; excluding those who have purchased trade show services research, advertising or other non-marketing service; and excluding those who have defaulted on payment to the company?
  11. Do you charge an up-front fee and, if so, how much is it? What do you provide for this fee?
  12. What will be the complete cost from when I submit invention ideas all the way through to obtaining a patent and a licensing agreement? 
  13. How does your company make your profit?
  14. Has your company, or any of its officers or employees ever been investigated by or had a complaint filed against them with the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, United States Patent and Trademark Office, State Attorney General, any consumer protection agency, or been sued by a client? If so, please provide details such as date of occurrence, place of occurrence, and outcome. 
  15. Who selects and pays for the patent attorney or agent to do the patent search, patentability opinion, and patent application preparation? Can I select my own?
  16. Please provide me with the names, address, telephone number and/or email address for a minimum of 5 of your clients that I can speak with about their experience with your company. 
  17. Please provide me with a complete set of copies of all contracts and forms you will he asking me to sign so that I may review them ahead of tie with my attorney.
  18. Do you provide me with a written opinion of the "marketability" (i.e. potential success) of my invention?

This list of questions may appear daunting, but it is designed to save you from the unscrupulous players in this industry. Always remember that the only one who really cares about your ultimate success is you. These companies are in business to make money. These questions offer the kind of inventor help and guidance to submit invention ideas that I could not find when I was starting out. If I had a list like this I would not have lost money in a scam.

filing a complaint against an invention submission company

The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 provides that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will:

  1. Accept complaints filed against invention promoters/promotion firms
  2. Forward these complaints to the invention promoters/promotion firms for response
  3. Make the complaints and responses publicly available

While this is important to do, you should understand that the USPTO does not investigate complaints or take legal action against such invention submission companies.

To file a complaint with the USPTO, draft a letter and include all of the following information:

  1. The name and address of the person making the complaint
  2. The name and address of the invention promoter/promotion firm
  3. The name of the customer of the invention promoter/promotion firm
  4. An explanation of the invention promotion services offered or performed
  5. The name of the mass media used to advertise the invention promoter's services
  6. A signature of the complainant

Mail this to: Mail Stop 24, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

More Inventor Help and Advice

Before you submit invention ideas and for more inventor help - I strongly recommend that you read through all these pages:

The truth about invention submissions companies

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