Do you have a great idea that you’ve thought about trying to turn into money? If so, the following may keep you from joining the thousands of other inventors who have lost money to questionable invention marketing companies.
- Some firms claim to represent manufacturers on the look out for new products. Ask for proof before you sign a contract with any firm that says it has special relationships with manufacturers.
- The firm may tell you that it needs to do a market evaluation of your idea—a service that will cost you several hundred dollars. The “research” is bogus, and the “positive” report they’ll give is an effort to get you to pay them even more.
- If a firm is enthusiastic about your idea—but wants to charge you a fee up front—walk away. Reputable licensing agents don’t usually rely on large advance fees but instead earn royalties from the successful licensing of their clients’ inventions.
- If the firm wants to charge you a high fee to register your idea with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, take your business elsewhere. The actual cost of filing a disclosure document with the Patent Office is $10. This disclosure is accepted as evidence of the date you came up with the idea for your invention, but it doesn’t offer patent protection.
- Ask the firm to tell you its success and failure rates for licensing clients’ inventions. Success rates show the number of clients who made more money from their inventions than they paid to the firm. North Carolina law requires the firms to share this type of information.
- Ask for the names and telephone numbers of some recent clients. Check with those people to see if they have gotten help from the firm. Keep in mind that the firm may only give you the names of people who’ve had a good experience with them, or may send you to someone paid to promote the firm.
- Ask if the firm has ever operated under a different name. If so, ask why they changed. Many firms in financial or legal trouble will go out of business only to re-open under a new name. Make sure you also investigate the company under its prior name.
- Investigate the company before you make a commitment. Contact the Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau in the state where the firm is headquartered.
- Read the contract carefully before you sign. Make sure it has everything you agreed to and expect in writing. You may also want to have an attorney review the contract.
- In North Carolina, invention marketing companies are not allowed to accept money until four business days after you sign the contract. You may cancel the contract at anytime before you pay by simply not submitting a payment.
We Can Help
If you have a complaint about an invention marketing firm, contact us for help
or call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.