Invention Submissions

Can you handle the truth about invention service companies and patent attorneys?

by Mike Marks

Learn about Invention City's submission and evaluation program here.

I've never wanted Invention City to be a typical invention company, a company that takes money for developing inventions that should never be developed in the first place. Most inventors have ideas they should NOT spend money on. While going forward with an invention costs a minimum of $10,000 with a typical invention service company, the cost to an inventor of doing the job right on his or her own can easily reach $200,000 and more. I have a hard time taking $10,000 when that's not enough money to do the job right. And charging $200,000 is not an option when the odds of success are still far less than 50/50. Imagine how angry clients would be if they paid $200,000 and it resulted in failure over half the time. But those are the odds. 99.5% of inventions will never make a dime and the best ones have only a 25-50% chance of success.

There's a reason most invention service companies work the way they do. Since the vast majority of inventions are destined to fail, the only reliable way to make money is to get paid for failure. While most invention companies provide real services, inventors get what they pay for. $10,000, even $20,000 is not enough to do the job right. It is, however, an amount of money that many people can scrape together if they really, really want to. So, for $10,000 to $20,000 inventors typically get pretty drawings, maybe a useless patent and a 99.9% chance of making nothing on their investment (The odds of failure with a service company are much higher than going forward on your own).

And the problem isn't just with invention service companies. It's with patent attorneys too. Far too many inventors spend money filing patents before they're ready and far too many patent attorneys encourage them to do so.

Inventors are easily flattered and conned into spending money on their babies. If you really believe in your idea and don't know what else to do, or don't have the time, maybe it's worth spending $10-$20,000 on a 0.1% chance of success. But I believe there's a better way.

When we first started Invention City 14 years ago we accepted submissions for free with the idea that we'd make money by sharing revenue from successful commercialization. In the first few years we looked at over 2000 inventions, worked actively on eighteen and made some money on two. This was not a workable model. Too much time was spent talking to inventors about inventions that were going nowhere. We shut down the submission program and for the next dozen years let run as a website for Inventor education. Then, at the end of last year we had an inspiration. We would charge inventors a reasonable fee to evaluate their inventions the same way we evaluate our own - this meant looking for an invention's flaws before getting excited about it.

Invention City's Invention Submission program was relaunched in December 2012. It is a work in progress but already shows signs of success. The program is 180 degrees opposite the industry's standard practice. Instead of offering flattery we give brutal honesty. Instead of looking for reasons why an invention might succeed, we look first at the things that might kill it. All inventions have flaws to some degree. Many of those flaws are fatal unless they're corrected. Sometimes no correction is possible and the invention should be abandoned. Most often it's a judgment call. The Invention City evaluation identifies flaws, points out ways to correct them (if possible) and sometimes (less than 1%) offers to develop and commercialize the invention on a revenue sharing basis at no further cost to the inventor.

Why should you pay to hear what's bad about your invention? Why should you want to hear that your invention is unlikely to succeed? Because the truth is out there whether you choose to see it or not. You have the choice of seeing it early and taking steps to improve your invention or to abandon it - either way you save money. A small investment to hear hard truths now can save a lot of money down the road.

In business no one ever tells you why they say "no." You can benefit greatly by hearing the "no" in advance. It will help you improve your invention and find the best path to "yes." Or it might cause you to move in a different direction entirely. The point here is that the invention path is a series of little steps that few people consider carefully when they start. Each step takes on a logic of its own and each new investment of time, money and hope makes it emotionally harder for an inventor to see reality. Our goal is act as the wise uncle who tells you the truth no matter how painful. This gives you the best possible chance of success while risking as little money as possible.

Finally, there is a chance, a small one, that after reviewing your invention, Invention City will offer you a commercialization deal. The possibility of getting a deal offer is real. But the best reason to get an evaluation is because you're planning to go forward regardless of what anyone says. Our evaluation may add fuel to your fire or it might put it out. Either way, if you're serious, you should get one.

A video is in the works. Stay tuned.

Learn about Invention City's submission and evaluation program here.

Mike Marks

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Inventor dude

Greetings! I'm going to throw out a brief description of my product idea and if you are not interested then there is no need to respond. It is an extraordinary idea(ever heard that before!!) that I have dubbed 'New Creation CoffeeMaker' and the following is a capsule summary. I am NOT willing to pay any fees and your only return will be off the success of this really great new method of creating the best cup of java I have ever tasted! Here goes: This idea deals with an unbelievable new way to fix the most awesome cup(s) of coffee. It combines several methods (one is using the principle of the French Press to get that full bodied, rich taste from the beans but WITHOUT the 'sludge') into one to easily and quickly get the best brew possible. Clean-up is a breeze, the whole mechanism would be ridiculously inexpensive as well as uncomplicated, a lot of latitude is allowed during preparation based on the user's preferences and it is pretty much 'fool proof'. And, there is no need for routinely having to clean any parts such as with drip machines or dealing with the tedious chore of cleaning a metal filter like on the French Press. Also, the temperature would remain constant during the brewing process and not lose heat as the standard French Press does. The ideal temp for brewing will be preset. That's it! Thanks for your time and all the best to you. Fred

by: Fred Belcher Jr


It's a shame, Fred… The coffee making industry harbors a very crowded field of devices. Look at the aisles devoted to coffee makers in Bad, Breath, and Begone - I mean Bed, Bath and Beyond - a plethora of plastic and glass in all kinds of designs and price ranges. From the original Mr. Coffee to Krups, hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars spent in advertising, marketing and merchandising at all levels - wholesale, distribution, retail and the most expensive of all marketing - consumer. Even so, the biggest names and best machines still sit in a tired and often dusty row on the store shelf. To make matters worse, mass marketing means lots of wasted advertising dollars as it's difficult to section out 1. coffee drinkers from the general public who 2. make their own coffee with a device, who 3. are tired of the sludge, and 4. will sit still long enough to hear your pitch if 5. you can figure out a way to deliver it to them. No small marketing feat there. The investment needed to break into this market is enormous. As for making the best coffee? Everyone says their device makes the best coffee. If yours really does… no one will know. You could always sample them — which I'm thinking is way to expensive. I vote no. While your invention might be great, the commercial feasibility of making this a success will be a tough and expensive road. But then like Mike Marks, I always look at the critical side of things first. Just ask my wife. Jeffrey Dobkin

by: Jeffrey Dobkin