Unfortunately, the market is flooded with a variety of invention promoters who are scam artists that prey on well-meaning inventors. Inventors are frequently targeted with high pressure marketing tactics that employ misleading or exaggerated patentability “analysis,” promises of easy money or lucrative licensing deals, and substantial up-front fees that can lead nowhere. The end result can be loss of money, loss of an invention, frustration and discouragement from what should have been a rewarding process. The problem is so pervasive, that the U.S. Patent Office has a prefabricated form for inventors to fill out and report getting scammed. http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/2048.pdf. You do not want to have to fill out this form.
As an individual inventor, the best tactic is to avoid getting scammed in the first place. Watch out for inventor “kits” or half-hearted “searches” that conclude you should file a patent with little or no evaluation of prior technologies, or that fail to provide you the actual patents identified as part of the search. If the promotion sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The truth is that even having a patent is not a guaranty that you will become instantly rich. Successful inventors will tell you that having a patent is only one important step in part of an overall process of profiting from an invention. The reality is that hard work, diligence in obtaining meaningful patents, and staying involved with your invention are more reliable indicators of success in inventing.
Probably the best approach to avoiding scams is to make sure that you use and consult with a patent attorney or agent registered to practice before the USPTO. Registered patent attorneys and agents have advanced science backgrounds, must pass a difficult federal bar exam to ensure proficiency with the Patent Office procedures, and are obligated to follow the Patent Office’s ethics rules. Unlike Patent Attorneys, Patent Agents do not have law degrees, but they are still considerably more reliable than most invention promotion companies. Inventors may be surprised to find that many patent attorneys and agents charge fees that are quite reasonable when compared the so-called promotion companies. So, shop around. Find a patent attorney that you feel comfortable working with and who will listen to you. Patent attorneys and agents are licensed specialists and ethically bound to place your interests before their own. A roster of registered patent attorneys and agents is available at: