I was watching American Inventor last night and I realized I hadn't yet done a post for inventors. Has anyone seen this show? I'm consistently bowled over by these folks that have spent THOUSANDS of dollars on their inventions & then walk in with prototypes made of wood, PVC pipe, coat hooks, etc. & it got me wondering where did all that money go??
By the time the episode got to the middle-aged gentleman that had the cake cutter, I think I got my answer. One of the judges asked where he had spent the $30 some thousand dollars (of his retirement!) and he replied that he paid a company to conduct a patent search, file it & help him create it. ding ding ding - bells went off for me at that point.
I'm the first to admit that my knowledge of the entire scope of the patent process is minimal. I understand the concepts & some terms, basically bits and pieces. That being said, I cannot endorse or denounce any particular invention company but I thought it'd be a good idea to post some resources for all those inventors out there.
About.com has a great resource about how to avoid invention company scams.
They also have a very helpful checklist to use when speaking to an invention company.
Michael S. Neustel founded the National Inventor Fraud Center, Inc..
Check with the Federal Trade Commission to see if a company has been investigated or fined; enter the word INVENTION in the search box.
And, then the big patent daddy, the USPTO should definitely be visited.