By: Dan Miller


You've seen the late night TV ads or have seen the promises in the back of a magazine: They offer just what you need for your improved Frisbee or child-proof bottle cap; a “do-it-all” package – development, packaging, patent and professional marketing.

STEP 1 – the average person believes that national programs and magazines would never allow “con artists” to use their media for advertising, so the person trusts the come-ons.
Truth 1 -- National publications don’t have the time or the expertise to check out every potential advertiser. And, these companies may spend $60,000 a month on their ads, so the media looks the other way.

STEP 2 -- the inventor calls a toll free number and receives some great looking information. Based on the glossy presentation, the inventor eagerly submits his/her idea for a “free” review.
Truth 2 -- The information presented is designed to mislead the inventor by outright lying or presenting misleading half-truths. Testimonials are usually false. “Shills” are put in place to answer calls about past clients.

STEP 3 -- The telephone salesman calls and excitedly tells you that your idea has been “accepted” by the company. They have never seen anything like this and they are sure it will be an instant success. However, you must pay certain fees to obtain a patent and marketing report. They will ask critical questions about you to determine the fees – usually ranging from $650 to $7,000.
Truth 3 -- ALL ideas are accepted by the company. I once had a client who has designed a vibration resistant cigarette plug-in adapter. How many of these do you think could be sold? But the company presented him with numbers of vehicles with cigarette lighters and with only a small percentage, he would be a millionaire.

STEP 4 -- Usually there is a step up process as you go along. More money for a useless “report”. More for the patent because companies are already contacting them about a supply of your product. A young couple I worked with had sent in over $10,000 TWICE to these scam companies and they will never see a penny return. One was for a plastic sheet insert to organize your canceled checks.
Truth 4 -- This is the hardest part to swallow. The inventor does actually get a patent, but it is worthless. Keep in mind, most patents are worth only the paper they are printed on. The Patent Office issues over 100,000 patents each year, most of which are worthless. You may be able to patent a square wooden wheel because it hasn’t been done – but who’s going to want to buy one?

This is a very brief introduction to a very big industry. Stay away from invention marketing firms that advertise on radio and late night TV. They’re out to fatten their wallets and empty yours!


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