2004-05-04 – Dodgy patent firms

I had an email today asking about a company that was offering to develop a chap’s invention, all for the tiny sum of £12,900! A little digging found that the company, Patent Trademark Institute of America, has been cited by the US Federal Trade Commission. My response was a definate “No!” to him. http://www.workingmodel.co.uk/caution.html is fairly clear about the organisation he mentions. Further info can be found here , which quotes the US Patent Office, and says “The USPTO complaint list includes prior complaints against: Advent Product Development; American Idea Management; American Inventors Corp.; Concept Network; Davison & Associates Inc.; International Product Design; International Product Design Inc; Invent-Tech; Invention Consultants, U.S.A; Invention Technology Co.; IP&R; National Invention Services, Inc.; New Product Advisory Group; New Product Consultants; New Product Consulting Corp.; New Products of America; and Patent Trademark Institute of America.” The name rang alarm bells for me instantly, as it is the kind of psedo-official name (such as “The Parliamentary Year Book” in this country) that rip-offs and scammer types love to use to dupe people out of money. Although I am an amateur, I am a professional engineer, and have been inventing and solving problems for many years, despite my youth. About 7 years ago, I nearly got stung by a company based in Ireland, in a similar manner. They are very good at what they do, and offer you all sorts of help, clever tricks to sell your invention, it all sounds like what you want to hear, but for the big fat fee! I think the first rule for any of these agents has to be, find one that is based in the same country as you! This is because you will probably be working quite closely with them for some time if you move forward with any particular idea, and because it is hard to threaten legal action on someone who is several thousand miles away, living under a different legal system. Always use Google or another search engine to find out either way about the company you are talking to, as well as checking the lists at the patent office of the country in which you live. Most of them maintain lists of scammers, as, sadly, you will not be the first to have dealt with them. Good luck, all, and use that Non-Disclosure Agreement!

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