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By Stephen Paul Gnass

[Click here to skip to checklist below]
Scambusters: Table of Contents
  • A Brief Introduction to Invention Scam Companies

  • Spotting Invention Scams: "We-do-it-all-for-you" Warning Signs Chart

  • "DE-SCAM-BLER" Checklist

  • The Big Question: "What Your "Success Rate"?

  • A Special Warning About Nondisclosure (Confidentiality) Agreements

  • FTC Facts for Consumers: Invention Promotion Firms

  • FTC Cracks Down on Fraudulent Invention Promotion Firms

  • FTC Settlement With Pennsylvania Invention Promotion Firm Requires $80,000 Payment, Disclosures; Cooling Off Period

  • FTC NEWS: New Jersey Invention Promotion Firm Settles FTC Charges. Defendants To Pay Three-Quarters Of A Million Dollars In Redress

    To check if a company has been investigated and/or fined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), enter the word INVENTION in the FTC's web site search engine and you will be able to view a list of FTC news releases about invention scam companies.

  • The more of these services that "one" company offers, the higher the probability that the company is a "scam", what I call a "we-do-it-all-for-you", "one-stop-shop" company. They usually offer these services in "phases" or "stages", but they still offer them all.

    Remember that inventing is an "a-la-carte" process. You pay separately for each service as you go along, when you need them, as you need them, and if you need them.

    For example, you go to a prototype maker who specializes in prototypes when you need one; you go to a patent attorney who specializes in patents when you need one; you go to a trade show or advertise on a web site that specializes in exposure when you need one; you work with a licensing agent or find a licensee that specializes in your product's specific field when you need one, etc.

    The goal of this checklist is to help you quickly recognize the scam companies. When shopping for services, put a check next to the services that the company offers. If you end up with all or most of the services checked, then beware - there is a very high possibility that the company is a scam. These types of companies are required by law to disclose their "success rates" to prospective buyers of their services - it will usually be somewhere in very small print in their literature with the total number of clients that have used their services, and how many have at least earned more than they paid - they usually disclose that they have a zero success rate.

    For an explanation of all the warning signs, click here to read:
    Spotting Invention Scams: "We-do-it-all-for-you" Warning Signs Chart.

    Note: If you check most of these items, there is a high risk that the company you're considering is a scam.
    Scams Usually
    Offer Most Or
    All Of These
    What Services
    Does the
    Company offer?
    Brief Service Description
    X ______ Advertises on TV, radio and back of magazine classified ads
    X ______ They have you sign their pre-signed confidentiality agreement which they send with initial sales package
    X ______ They evaluate ideas (or imply they do)
    X ______ They compile marketability reports
    X ______ They perform patent searches
    X ______ They file patents
    X ______ They promote inventions, including exhibiting at tradeshows or their web site
    X ______ They submit inventions to industry
    X ______ Company acts as a licensing agent
    Ask for their "Success Rate"
    X ______ Company licenses products.
    Ask for their "Success Rate"

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