My Meeting With An Idea Submission Company

My Meeting With An Idea Submission Company

I’ve been on the bandwagon against idea submission companies for many years because of their dismal success rate…. and the amount of money they supposedly charge.


But how much do they ACTUALLY charge, and what do they ACTUALLY do?


I decided to get this information “straight from the horse’s mouth,” so I made an appointment to meet with the idea submission company nearest me, InventHelp’s local office in Burbank, California.


Disclaimer: This post is not meant to bash InventHelp, only to share my experience. They offer a service, albeit a very expensive one, and they have awful statistics when it comes to their clients making more money from a licensing deal than they paid InventHelp for their help services — a success rate of less then half a percent, as stated on their own website. (Also see my other post on idea submission companies.) copexactly .47% According to their statement at the bottom of the ‘Client Invention Stories’ webpage, when you do the math this is less than one half of one percent.



Into the belly of the beast


When I arrived for my meeting, the first thing I had to do was fill out two forms:


1) ‘Statement of Confidentiality and Non-Use.’ This basically states that your invention won’t be used, sold, assigned, or disclosed to any other person, organization or corporation without your permission


2) ‘Disclosure to InventHelp and Record of Invention.’ It states that the inventor (who is filling out the form) revealed his/her invention to InventHelp on ______date. There is a space to sketch out the inventor’s idea, and then a series of questions where the inventor describes his/her invention. I brought an actual prototype so I didn’t have to sketch anything.


Then the Regional Sales Director escorted me into his office and asked me to show and demonstrate my invention. I complied.


He asked if I planned to patent the product. I told him I didn’t know if it was even patentable, but that I had filed a provisional patent application (PPA). He informed me that provisional patents (he left out ‘application’) aren’t valuable even for their intended use. He backed that up by telling me about the March 16, 2013 ‘first-to-file‘ law. (I address this subject at the end of this post.)


I felt this was a bit of a scare tactic, but I refrained from comment.



Stage Two of the meeting


After I said my piece (about the invention I had brought along), he started his presentation to me:


First, they offer a patent search service through third party legal at a cost of $199. (This is something you can do for free, right from your home computer.)


Second, they offer the ‘Basic Information Package’ (BIP). This is where they “assemble basic information about your invention, idea, concept or new product and the history of its development in a report format.” This report is bound as a glossy hard cover book. It resembles a textbook, but with far fewer pages. Cost = $746


The Basic Information Package Service combines the above two items, total cost = $945.


He wrapped this part of the presentation with, “That’s step one.”


I told him I’d have to talk to my wife and ask her about putting this on a credit card. His face went blank, he sat back in his chair and regrouped as I had just broke his pattern. “Oh, you gotta ask your wife…” he said.


I asked what step two was, and he said, “We discuss that after step one.”


I asked what the total costs were. He sat back in his chair again and said, “Ten thousand nine hundred dollars.”


Then he asked me to sign the Affirmative Disclosure Form, which very clearly states the following:




1) From 2010-2012, we signed Submission Agreements with 4,671 clients. As a result of our services, 141 clients have received license agreements for their products, and 22 clients have received more money than they paid us for these services.


2) We charge $945 for a Basic Information Package. We charge from $10,900 to 15,900 for our marketing, licensing or promotional services.


3) We do not evaluate or appraise the merit or marketability of your idea or invention. Therefore, if we or our sales consultants tell you, for example, that your idea is ‘good,’ is ‘potentially marketable,’ is commercially feasible’ or that it is ‘promotable,’ such statements represent only the opinion of InventHelp, Western InventHelp or its sales consultants, and in no way imply that a competent and objective appraisal or evaluation of the merit or marketability of your idea or product has been conducted.


4) The marketing or licensing of a new product is a difficult and very uncertain process with no guarantee of success or profit. Therefore, the receipt of royalties, license fees, sales proceeds or other forms of revenue is a contingent possibility only. You should refer to the information provided in paragraph 1 above when considering this possibility.




I signed the form. He then gave me a file folder with:


  • a copy of the forms I had signed,
  • three brochures entitled, ‘How We Work,’ ‘About The Basic Information Package’ and ‘Patent Referral Services,’
  • and a ‘Service and Fees’ brochure where they list our what you get for your money.







So, what DO they do for you?


You get a “patent search” (which just means checking to see if their are existing patents close in scope to your idea).  They hook you up with a patent attorney (which you have to pay for out of your own wallet).  You get a bound book that describes your product.  You get placed in their catalog of products, with an iffy chance at having them actually pursue a meeting on your product’s behalf. In fact I don’t think they even offer that service of finding the right company for your particular product for the sake of presenting only your product.


InventHelp charges $945 + $10,900 = $11,845 for these services.


Aw, come on.  You can do this better (far better) yourself — and for a fraction of the cost.





On the way out the door, I asked if they (InventHelp) shared in any of the royalties (in the unlikely event that any royalties come in at all).


He said, “You keep all royalties until you recoup the amount of money you pay us.  Then it’s an 80/20 split with the inventor getting 80% and InventHelp getting 20%.”


As mentioned in my other post, Are Submission Companies Any Good, InventHelp has a success rate of less than half a percent.  Obviously, the company does NOT make its money by “sharing royalties” with inventors.


They clearly have a sales force — but their salesmen aren’t out selling inventions.  They’re busy selling YOU on the idea that it’s “hard” to sell inventions.


In my opinion, you can do everything they do for a fraction of the cost, I know because I have done it many times in the past, and I will continue to do it in the future.


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Regarding the ‘first-to-file’ law and the provisional patent – the following is an excerpt from an article from (Click for full article).


“However, the term “first-to-file” is a bit of a misnomer. In the United States, whether under first-to-invent or first-to-file, an inventor can publicly disclose their invention, such as in a blog post, and still file a patent application within one year of that public disclosure. The system being implemented under the AIA is not a true first-to-file system as in most foreign countries because this grace period on public disclosure will remain.”


Further, it reads:


“Therefore, companies should look to establish processes to quickly and efficiently identify inventions, and to determine whether to file patent applications or to otherwise publicly disclose those inventions. If the technology is worthy of patent protection, filing a series of low-cost provisional applications during the course of development of the technology can be a cost-effective way to establish a series of early “first-to-file” filing dates for the technology.”


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Photo of man and binoculars courtesy of suphakit73 at


  • Hi Scott! Thank you very much for sharing your story! I have an idea and I scheduled a meeting with them, but I had the feeling about it, so I googled for reviews before I go and I’m glad I did.
    Now, I have my idea and I still would like to find a way to at least manufacture it, and then do the marketing and selling myself (or finding a company to do it). Is there any way you suggest a manufacturer that could help me with this? Or share how you manufactured your ideas yourself if you can?

    Thank you very much!

  • This was awesome. I have been sitting on my idea for 7 years. I have been extremely lazy. I thought using Inventhelp would push me to complete the idea. However, after reading this post I see that it will be a waste of time. Thank you for the input. I will hopefully getting this idea off the ground soon.

  • Great information, Mr. Evans!
    Unfortunately, the TechCrunch journalist quotes about the “first inventor to file” a/k/a first to file is a little bit of a knot in that it’s mixing two concepts, namely 1) “first to file” and 2) the statutory deadline that’s created when an invention is disclosed publicly. Its author implies that the inventor who published first would be awarded a patent, even if someone else came in the door six weeks later and filed for the patent. This isn’t the case. … here’s how to untangle the issue:

    1. The publication rule (unrelated to “first to file”) applies to a one-year deadline that inventors (usually unintentionally) create because they make public their invention (wether in an article, Facebook Post, a talk on the topic, or otherwise). While it is evidence that “you” invented first, it does not trigger the filing date for a “first to file” system, so the inventor is STILL under the threat of a publication made by someone else.

    2. The filing date is the trigger for determining who gets the patent, regardless of how much earlier the invention happened (or that it can be documented to have been invented).

    So, “1” is describing a “grace period” (to prevent what you disclose from harming you) while “2” describes the creation of a filing date. The two are unrelated events.

    However, they can be intertwined by a fairly simple example (and fits easily on a single timeline).

    Pretend January 1 is your invention date and you post a blog about your invention on that day.
    Assume you mortal enemy “the Procrastinator” does the same thing (without your help or your input), but on February 1, and then files a provisional patent application on February 28, and a utility patent application on March 31, but goes one step further and requests early publication which happens on May 1.
    Lastly, let’s assume that on December 31 you file a provisional patent application on the idea you blogged about in the previous year.

    So, here’s what happens:
    A) the inventor who published first (aka “Published Inventor) has (1) triggered a “disclosure date” and now has a one-year grace period to file a patent application before abandoning his rights, and (2) created “prior art”issues (under Rule 102) for the “First Filing Inventor.” However … B jumps in ..
    B) the inventor who filed first (The First Filing Inventor) has created prior art issues. Dealing only with First To File’s application publication, so long as the First Filing Inventor did not steal the invention from the Published Inventor, it’s also prior art against the Published Inventor.

    This is “Scenario 3” on Page 15 of this Patent Officer Training:
    So, what happens? I believe in the hypothetical, NEITHER inventor will be granted a patent — and this awful outcome is precisely why the journalist is wrong to lull inventors into believing that they can wait – inventors MUST RUN to the patent office and file a patent application (at least a Provisional Patent Application) as soon as possible.
    At least I believe that’s what happens. What say you?

  • Thank you so much for that info. I’ve been searching all over for how much invent help charges. That is absolutely ridiculous for what they supposedly do for you. I have an idea I’d like to find out if it can be patented, but it looks like it won’t be through invent help. Great article !!!!!

  • I also went with invent help, got a design patent and have just been paying them off monthly past couple of years. No progress. I’m still under contract apparently but in the initial meeting I must have misunderstood that the contract was only for 2 years. Anyway.

    I have a few other inventions I am looking to license though and get my foot in the door, any recommendations of how this process looks? I have home made prototypes so far, and have been looking at 3D printing companies to create a prototype.

    Any information would help! Thank you! And thank you for this post!

    • I do have a 3D printing partner and have had great success with him as he is a great friend. Let me know if I can help.

  • Thank you for possibly saving me thousands of dollars! I have a small invention that I am obviously trying to license and without a clue as to where to begin I found Inventhelp. I tend to do a lot of research/ due diligence prior to spending money on services. I discovered your posting and am glad I did.
    I guess I will keep searching out avenues as to where to actually begin.

    Thank you,

  • I like to be on the web email list for the working inventors blog

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