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    Monday, May 5, 2008

    Invention Promotion Companies.

    Frequently consumers report problems with invention promoters or invention promotion firms. Congress passed the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 to deal with the problem of scam invention promotion firms. Congress recognized that a growing number of invention promotion firms do not provide accurate statistics to the inquiring inventor of unsuccessful invention promotions, but instead typically provide nice shiny packages to inventors, giving misleadingly glowing suggestions of rewards to be reaped if only the inventor will pay substantial money for the marketing.

    The American Inventor’s Protection Act requires invention promotion firms to disclose in writing to the inventor the following: (1) the number of positive and negative evaluations of inventions the invention promoter has given over a five-year period and (2) the success of the invention promoter’s customers in receiving net financial profit and license agreements as a direct result of the invention promotion services.

    Not all invention promoters are “bad”. Some are reputable and may perform a useful function. The Patent Office keeps track of complaints filed against invention promoters. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also keeps a record of its enforcement actions against invention promoters—just type “invention” in the FTC search engine to see FTC press releases related to invention promotion firms and enforcement actions. Additionally, the FTC has an information website explaining invention promotion firms as well as a useful “consumer alert”.

    Please post any comments regarding experiences with invention promotion companies.

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