How to Avoid Invention Scams
How to Avoid Invention Scams
by Ronald L Docie, Sr., President, Docie Development, LLC
© 2010 All rights reserved -
You could not create a better scenario for a scam than you have in the invention business. The real scam is the inventor’s attitude, fueled by misleading information. Consider these assumptions.
Assumption Number One
Arguably, 999 of every 1,000 inventions never make it from idea stage to the marketplace. This figure certainly could be off by a factor of 10 in one direction or the other depending on how far an idea has advanced before you start counting it, and your definition of what makes a successful invention, i.e. just to make it to the market, to make more money that what was invested in it, to turn a profit for the company, etc.
The US Patent and Trademark office at one point published that 1% or 2% of issued patents ever become a product. Anyway you shake it, the odds are extremely high for any inventor to make a commercially successful product.
Assumption Number Two
From my experience, 999 of every 1,000 inventors think that their invention is the 1 in 1000 that will be successful. This is a good example of why you can put the most frightening disclosure on your brochure about how risky the invention business is, and the customers just keep on coming because they know deep inside that they are not part of the majority at risk.
If you believe these two assumptions are actually facts, you can better understand how this makes it ripe for a scam. A scam company doesn’t even have to ‘scam’ their customers; their customers have already scammed themselves before ever considering the purchase of a service.
Therefore, scam companies need only present a smorgasbord of products and services that the inventors already think that they need, based on all the erroneous information already floating around the marketplace, and viola, they can even make enough money to advertise their toll free number on late night television.
So, if I want to make money from inventors, then all I need to do is take as much of the first dollars coming from the inventor BEFORE they ever figure out that they are part of the 999 in 1000, not the 1 in 1000.
It is ironic that many inventors think that the rip-off comes from companies that want to steal their invention. Tell me something, why would I attempt to steal an invention and deal with a 1 in 1000 statistic to be successful, when I can take $5,000 to $20,000 from the inventor all day long and do that 999 times, instead? So you see, the scam is essentially from inventors feeling perfectly justified in investing great amounts of money for products and services to help them with their invention project, when they have absolutely no idea which of the products or services they really need, and when. Now, let’s look at who exactly is waiting in the wings to take advantage of this situation.
Scam Number One
Major scam number one, many members of the patent profession, including patent attorneys and patent agents registered to practice in good faith at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It doesn’t take much convincing to suggest to an inventor that they should get a patent on an invention in order to “protect” themselves.
The problem is, most inventors don’t realize that in many cases, the patent is not offering them the protection that they think they are getting, and in many cases it is entirely unnecessary to file a patent before performing enough market research as is necessary to determine that the invention will likely not be commercially successful, at least, not enough to pay the expense of patenting.
Certainly there are those circumstances whereby it is essential to file a patent application soon, and often, and patents may be a critical part of your commercialization strategy.
Yet, of the 100’s, if not 1000’s of invention projects I have been associated with over the past three decades, rarely is it the case that the inventor should run out and incur $5,000 to $10,000 in expenses for patenting as their first investment. Instead, inventors usually come to me after having incurred that expense and for about one-fifth of that amount, and without ever revealing the invention; I can typically determine that the invention is not worth pursuing from a commercial standpoint. What I am talking about is to do a little bit of primary market research.
However, market research is a very hard thing to sell to inventors because most inventors don’t think they need research; they don’t need someone telling them how great their invention is or whether it will be a successful product because they already know that it will be. They just need someone to go out there and introduce it to the right companies and viola, they will start to receive royalty checks. This brings us to scam number two.
Scam Number Two
Companies in the business of submitting inventions in bulk to companies found in a database. For only $10,000, you can have your invention submitted to 50 or even 100 companies carefully targeted by the company’s super duper database. Does it matter to the company whether they have targeted the right companies, or that you ever get a positive response, or even an offer to purchase your invention? Of course not! The invention marketing company has a 99.9% chance that they are going to make money from submitting your invention to at least someone, and only a .1% chance that they are going to make money from you being successful with your invention. So where do you think they are going to invest their resources? Hopefully you are getting enough of this picture to answer this question on your own at this point.
So, if I am a patent attorney and I get the first $10,000 from the inventor then I don’t care if they ever market their invention because I got my money first, and besides, the marketing part is not my job, I just file applications. If I’m the marketing company, what do I care if your invention ever makes the market when I can get the first $10,000 from you to send out some form letters to companies found in a database?
If I can prolong the inevitable understanding that your invention is not worth pursuing, then maybe I can sell you some more services along the way, like a virtual demonstration of your invention, or a year’s subscription to a dedicated website, and a database drawing attention to your invention, and any number of other services that inventors like to pay for when they have no real justification in doing so.
What’s NOT a Scam
Here’s how to tell if a company offering services to inventors is not a scam. If the company spends no more of its time, or your money, in the process of diligently attempting to determine that your invention is part of the 999 of 1000. If they suggest a majority of the time that your invention is probably not worth pursuing further, then I’d say you have the real deal. Sadly, only a handful of companies in the United States are able to pull this off and stay in business.
Do you realize how hard a sell it is to say to an inventor client, “I’m going to work hard to determine that your invention probably isn’t worth pursuing”? Can you imagine all the inventors beating down the doors to hear that sales pitch? And yet, that’s exactly what the inventor needs to hear if they want to be dealing with a truly legitimate company.
Or, do you think the inventor would rather hear, “I think you have something really great, and we are going to supply you with what you already think you need, sign here, what’s your credit card number?” Herein lies the ripest scenario for a scam that could ever be created.
And what adds insult to injury is that the US Patent and Trademark Office, patent law associations, and other supposedly creditable organizations have fallen right into the trap. They publish material to suggest questions that inventors should ask of invention marketing companies, not even realizing where the scam actually lies. And as such, the scam artist can answer these questions with flying colors, and a legitimate invention broker trying to get started in the business get slammed and appear uncredible compared to the scam artist.
Is it any wonder why there are so few new legitimate invention brokers offering services to inventors in the United States and yet so many scams? Certainly if any authority was effective at understanding the problem, we would have some relief, however there aren’t and we don’t.
As such, these so called markers by which to judge the legitimacy of invention marketing companies may, in many respects, be inverse to what you should actually be looking for. Again, try selling this to an inventor, “Pick only invention marketing companies who end up with mostly failures”. Say, “what?!?” What I am really saying is, pick those companies who ‘successfully’ RECOGNIZE failure in the vast majority of instances, and do so sooner rather than later.
It’s not always a pleasant milestone by which to rate a company, but then sometimes reality can be sobering and necessary, ultimately saving you money, time and grief.
This information is meant to be discouraging, only to the extent that it should ‘encourage’ you to thoroughly investigate the types of services that you really need. If you are NOT approaching this from the standpoint of spending no more time or money than is necessary to find out that your invention may not be worth pursuing further, then you are a ripe candidate for any number of scams, waiting, willing and able to take your hard earned money at each and every step.
Invention City is proud to be listed in Ron Docie's soon to be published 4th edition of The Inventor's Bible. The 3rd edition is now available at Amazon.
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