Are you ready to patent and market an invention? If so, you may be looking for help – and bogus invention-promotion firms may be looking for you. Today, the FTC announced that it filed a lawsuit against two companies and their owner for running an invention-promotion scam that took thousands of dollars from people and, in many cases, stole their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.
The FTC alleges that instead of providing the patent and invention promotion services they promised, the defendants lied, deceived, and intimidated their customers. They claimed to have successfully marketed other inventions that resulted in royalties and sales, but according to the FTC, virtually no one who contracted with them made any money. They also sold “global” patents that supposedly were valid anywhere in the world, but this wasn’t true. If customers said they were going to report the company to the Better Business Bureau or post a bad review online, the FTC says defendants or their lawyers would often threaten to sue them, citing baseless but intimidating charges like extortion and defamation.
If you’re looking for an invention-promotion firm, take note:
- Only a few inventions ever make it to the marketplace.
- Steer clear of any company that promises your idea will be patented or that you will make money. In fact, getting a patent can provide valuable protection, but it may not increase the chances of you making money.
- Check out online reviews, but take them with a grain of salt. Dishonest companies ask people to write positive reviews, but won’t allow you to post negative ones.
- Check out the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the company.
Need more help? Check out the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Look for the Inventors Assistance Center. And if you think you’ve spotted an invention-promotion scam, report it to the FTC. Your report may help stop it.
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