Unfortunately, there are countless companies that are looking to take advantage of an inventor’s eagerness to bring his or her ideas to market. Therefore, if you or your company is planning to hire an invention promoter, it is important to understand how to discern a legitimate marketing company from a scam.
First, it is important to be aware that the firm must disclose specific information to you regarding their past business practices. This mandatory disclosure form is required by law and is intended to help you make an informed decision whether or not the firm will meet your needs.
Specifically, before an invention promotion contract can be established between you and the firm, each invention promotion firm must disclose to you in writing each of the following items of information:
- 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 In other words, how much experience does the promoter have? What is their track record? Do they generally give mostly positive or negative evaluations, or is there a balance between their positive and negative evaluation history?
- § 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 non-marketing services from the invention promoter, or who have defaulted in their payment to the invention promoter This information will give you an idea of just how experienced the promoter or firm is and the volume of services they provide.
- 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 What financial impact, if any, has the promoter or firm actually made to its customers?
- 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 Like item (3) above, this information will also enable you to gauge the effectiveness of the firm in evaluating its direct impact on its customers. Note the key words in the last two requirements–”as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter”. Be aware that just because a license agreement was eventually secured for a given invention does not necessarily mean that it was a “direct result” of the promotion activities of the firm.
- 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 information will help you to know the history of the promoter or firm, even if the promoter changes firms or the firm changes its name.
In addition to making sure you receive the required disclosures, it is always advisable to research the reputation of invention promoters/promotions firms before making any commitments. As detailed by the USPTO, it’s best to be wary of any firm that promises too much and/or costs too much. If you are thinking about using one of these firms, ask for references from their current clients and thoroughly research the firm’s reputation. In many cases, a patent attorney can assist you with the vetting process.