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:

 

Quote:

 

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.

 

Unquote.

 

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.

 

Their brochures are scattered with all sorts of disclosures such as, (their emphasis in capitalization) “OUR BUSINESS IS TO HELP INVENTORS SUBMIT IDEAS TO INDUSTRY IN THE HOPE THAT COMPANIES WILL GIVE THESE IDEAS A GOOD-FAITH REVIEW. THIS IS A DIFFICULT PROCEDURE AND CHANCES OF FINANCIAL SUCCESS ARE SMALL.”

 

In the ‘How We Work’ brochure there is a block of copy that reads (their emphasis in capitalization) “DESPITE OUR ATTEMPTS TO GET SOME ATTENTION FOR YOUR IDEA THROUGH THESE METHODS,YOU MUST REMEMBER IT IS AN EXCEPTIONALLY DIFFICULT THING TO DO, AND YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING GOOD RESULTS ARE EXTREMELY SMALL.”

 

 

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.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

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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Footnote:

 

Regarding the ‘first-to-file’ law and the provisional patent – the following is an excerpt from an article from TechCrunch.com (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 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

11 Comments

  • Like your review,I have a few incredible ideas for two products that will revolutionalize these two products. I could use your help and you will get a cut on royalties. Please get back with me personaly, Mich

  • I just reported them to the BBB. I wish I had read this article before I committed to “phase 1” which turned out to be a total rip off. Here is a summary of my experience for every one to read about:

    I came across Invent Helps website when researching how to develop product ideas and went in for consultation at their New York City office. I met the local NYC representative, Bobby Q, who provided me with an overview of IH’s services back in Oct 2016. I agreed based on his convincing sales pitch to invest an initial $1000 into a “basic information package” (BIP) and “preliminary patent feasibility study” to be conducted by one of their independently licensed pattent attorneys.

    The BIP was framed as an important stand alone document that could serve me as an inventor to approach relevent industry players with the necessary information to effectively sell and negotiate my idea. In other words, I would be able to use the BIP to continue to build my invention idea, without any furthur assistance or contracted services from Invent Help. The BIP seemed at the time like a worthwhile document to invest in, as did the advice of a patent attorney.

    Several weeks later in December, the BIP arrived to their Manhattan office, and I went in for a follow up consultation to discuss the work done up to this point. Bobby, the local sales rep, although friendly, jumped around citing various vague sections of the BIP as well as dubious statistics (that I would later discover were several years out dated), and ultimately concluding a new level of sales pitches that involved a much steeper price tag. I was given the option of signing a $15,500 contract on the spot with invent help, with no guaruntees, to develop and market my idea over a 2 year period. The pressure was on because I was offered no interest financing on the amount should I decide right away, or a 5% interest plan should I take my time in deciding what to do.

    I was already scheduled to leave the country shortly after the consultation, so I was not in a position to make a decision right away. Additionally, at that point I had not even been able to fully read and digest the BIP or have follow up questions answered before signing over a considerable amount of capital. I was already begining to feel very unconfortable with their some what aggressive sales approach.

    The following is exactly what I wrote to invent help regarding both the BIP and an experience I had in reaching out to the patent attorney who reviewed my idea:

    “Primarily, as it relates to the document titled “Basic Information Package”, after carefully reading the different sections, I found the document to be poorly written, fundamentally off-topic, and insufficiently researched. The document is contains numerous verbatim redundancies, suggesting a lazy and thoughtless attitude in developing a conceptual narrative of which to present the invention idea, and the nature of the industry for its intended use. Many pages appear to be full of generic information that has been copied and pasted over the years without being updated. On multiple pages, the same language can be found word for word, which essentially amounts to a form of “fluff” or “filler” – words to fill up pages that add no original content or value to the description of the product, its intended purpose, or the industry in which i have previously discussed breaking into. As for one of the central conclusions proposed in the package, which states that my primary market would consists of “bicycle enthusiasts” (and consequentially providing a litany of outdated and tangentially related information at best from 2013, when my own research shows that new data from as recent as 2015 is available from the very sources cited in the bibliography) it is flawed in scope and fails to mention any aspect of the primary industry that I hope to one day crack into – the food and beverage delivery industry. From the beginning, my goal was to offer a product to the bicycle courier operating within the scope of delivering take out food and drink. To this end, there is absolutely no mention of the food and beverage industry, approximations of the number of delivery couriers working in specific cities or nationally, any data pertinent to sales volume, transaction value, or names of companies. To position “bicycle enthusiasts” as my primary market to sell my invention idea, and to spend numerous pages describing trends in bicycle sales intended for recreational or commuter use is not directly related to my concept, and is an oversimplification that generalizes all bicycle users in to one homogeneous group. It also fails to acknowledge that the vast majority of bicycle delivery couriers in new york acquire their bicycles on second hand markets which are not methodically tracked and could not be referenced, and many cycle couriers rely on electronic-bikes which are not traditional bicycles that would be captured in the data provided. Moreover, the bibliography is not properly formatted in such a manner that would have allowed me to easily identify which sources are being used where, and for what purpose. The bibliography is essentially “padded” with fluff material that cannot be identified for its relevancy – for example “Youtube statistics” Youtube, is listed as a source, but there is no indication of where this is used in the document, or why it would be relevant. Numerous sources date back to 2012 and 2013 when data from 2015 is available. As for the Patentability search, I called the phone number listed at the top of the first page for the offices of Thomas Frost who answered the phone. The purpose of the call was to ask a few basic follow up questions about the findings of their research and some procedural matters of which as a beginner inventor, I had a few curiosities regarding the patent process. Needless to say, Mr. Frost did not treat me with the courtesy or attention that a new client deserves. He seemed annoyed on the phone that I was even calling, and really resisted engaging in any meaningful conversation with me regarding his work or the patent process in general. I was left feeling completely disregarded and worthless. In conclusion, I am extremely dissatisfied in all the materials that have been presented to me to date after having paid almost $1000 in fees. Not once before the information package was sent to me was I asked any follow up questions to clarify any relevant information that could have been used to better develop the scope of the information presented. Additionally, I am very unhappy with how the representative of the patent attorney spoke with me over the phone suggesting that he did not value me as a potential client. If this is the thoughtless kind of effort that has demonstrated itself to be part of the invent help model to this point, I want nothing to do with it and will not be investing any more money into your services in the future. I would like a full refund as I do not wish to proceed with setting up a two year contract. The basic information package is essentially useless to me, and I am not interested in any revisions.”

    ——- After speaking over the phone with the researcher “Bob”, it was established that I did not want a revision. 2 days ago (March 15) without my approval, I was sent a “revised” copy of a BIP to my surprise. No word about the refund status that both Bobby in NYC and Bob (reasearch in PA) both agreed to bring to the attention of their superiors. TODAY, March 17, I received what turned into a pretty upsetting phone call from “Lark Blasi” from their “compliance department”. I reiterated where my conversations last left things, and what just recently occured. She then began insisting that I “missed the window for obtaining a refund” to which I responded I was not informed of such window. When I began to ask where I would have been informed of this window, she became very impatient and hostile in tone with me – no way for ANY representative of ANY company talking to a customer who is simply asking questions and expressing dissatisfaction with a companies products and services.

    Apparently, the 7 day window she was referring to PASSED before the BIP was even created – THEREFORE, how would have I known before having the poor experience and lousy product that I would even be seeking a refund when nothing had been given to me? Its a total sham. I just reported all of this to the BBB and hope to get my money back.

    • Hello there…. Thank you guys for sharing such information. I have pretty much the same experience with other company named Invention Land or Davison . “Davison” referred to thier CEO and founder. Thier first stage which I fail into it cost me about 800$ . And same as yours guys it was very bad … anyway, now I am looking to develop my idea alone and sell it in the end.
      Referring to all the above, any help in this matter will be highly appreciated.
      Thanks again

  • 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: https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/aia_implementation/fitf_live_overview_training_slides-march2013.pdf
    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,
    Dave

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

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