Inventor Warnings, Education and Suggested Questions - Be Careful Here Too
Not Everything You Read on the Internet is Accurate or True - You Already Know That, But...
Invention scams are in the news again and inventors looking for ways to avoid being scammed may run across websites giving them advice on how to avoid them. Some of the advice is good and some is not.
The first thing to ask yourself when reading anyone's advice is, who is the person giving me this advice? What have they done that makes them credible and what is their angle? Invention City is very transparent about who we are and what we do. Click on the "About" link and you'll see bios, reviews and examples of some of the products we've brought to market.
Free Versus Paid Consultation
Invention City distinguishes itself by charging $95 to give inventors advice on what to do with their inventions (and the possibility of a licensing deal with no further fees paid by the inventor). Understanding an invention and giving advice about it takes time. Time is money and the only way we know to get honest advice is to pay money for it. Invention City also offers a free online self evaluation tool called the Inventicator™. We can offer this for free because it does not require our time and also hope that inventors who score well consider submitting their inventions to us using our Free Benchmark Submission. Invention City is genuinely looking to share in long run profits from licensing deals.
The vast majority of invention service companies, particularly those that offer free consultations, earn their primary income by providing services. There's nothing inherently wrong or unethical with that. But you should know that when you get a free consultation, the company giving the free consultation has an incentive to sell you services, regardless of whether or not your invention has a good chance of success.
Cookie Cutter Programs Save Money But Are Unlikely to Work
Invention development and marketing packages typically cost $10,000-$20,000+ and provide those services in a sort of assembly line fashion. This can save a lot of money for inventions that fit on the assembly line and the result can be pretty good. But in a business where long odds are the rule, pretty good is unlikely to be good enough. An invention needs to be phenomenal to have even a 50/50 shot at success; its patent protection needs to be meaningful (see below); the presentation must be short and compelling and the targets of that presentation must be clearly identified and approached directly. For a simple invention, doing the job well, in a way that maximizes the chance of success, typically costs upwards of $100,000
There is a lot of conflicting advice about patents online. Patents are complicated, imperfect and there are a lot of gray areas. Nonetheless, we believe that a meaningful patent is critical when seeking a licensing deal. "Meaningful" is the important word to keep in mind. You can do a lot of good prior art searching on your own with keywords at http://www.google.com/patents but you will need someone with expertise to interpret what you find. Here are two good introductory articles about patents:
Non Disclosure Agreements (aka Confidentiality Agreements)
It is important to distinguish between designers and fabricators versus potential licensees (marketers and brands). Companies that help you develop and produce parts for your invention are usually ok about signing your NDA. But potential licensees are fussy and will almost always insist on using their own. Here's more.
Using a Lawyer as Your Agent
Some lawyers can also be effective invention marketers. Most are not. If you aren't afraid of hearing no and can reflect and learn from failure, you will likely do a better job of marketing your invention yourself than anyone you can hire or partner with. Passion rules the day and you care more about your invention than anyone. Second best is working with a partner who has a real stake in seeing your invention succeed.
How Many Patents Actually Make Money?
I'm not aware of any good databases on this, but guesstimating from Invention City's experience, the number of provisional patent filings that go on to become issued patents and then make enough money to cover the cost of the patent is far less than 1% and probably even less than 0.1%. (1 in 1000).
Has Invention City Made Real Money for Inventors?
Yes. Go to the About Us page and scroll down to see examples.
Has Invention City Saved Real Money for Inventors?
Yes. Check out this video where inventor Bill S. says that Invention City has spent $200,000+ on his invention and he only paid $95:
Here's more information on how to find a reputable invention development and marketing company.
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