Invention Design and Marketing Scams

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Inventor’s Beware! 

Have you received a promise that a company will will “develop” your prototype and “market” your invention to a third party licensee?

A quick Google search of “invention scams” reveals a bevy of complaints to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), United States Patent and Trademark Office, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Operation Mouse Trap investigations, various websites, and miscellaneous blogs on this very subject.

The complaints have common themes:

  • Huge upfront charges for services.  The BBB warns against paying significant amounts of money (ranging from $3,000 to $20,000 or more) to any invention “development” company.   A reputable company that believes in your idea will not typically require such fees.

  • A woefully inadequate prototype.  The inventor receives a prototype, but it looks unprofessional and certainly not worth 5K-20K to design, or never receives a working prototype; the complaints are:  ”I never received a prototype,” or “They never made a prototype.”

  • Oversimplification of the Idea.  The invention “development” company radically alters the idea concept to simply it, to make the company’s job easier to create a prototype.

  • Sham “presentations.”  The invention company promises to pitch or present the inventor’s idea to a third party for potential licensing agreement for mass production and distribution (and royalties to the inventor for his patent, etc), but then the inventor gets scant details about the “pitch” and questions whether it ever happened .

  • A request for money for additional “pitches.”  After the first “pitch” or promotion to one company, the invention company seeks additional money to pitch the idea to another company.

  • A general failure to deliver services, according to the BBB.


The above list of complaints and scenarios found online is not exhaustive. But the question remains:  are some invention development and marketing companies a “scam” or total ripoff? The BBB warns as follows: “Beware if companies:

  • Insist on substantial upfront fees.

  • Won’t disclose other clients’ success and rejection rates.

  • Guarantee profits and refuse to provide written documentation of promises.

Realistically, few patented inventions are successful and most reputable firms:

  • Are highly selective.

  • Rely on royalties from successful clients’ inventions.

  • Will not promote ideas if there are patent infringement risks.”


In each case, our Pittsburgh lawyers consider the dealings and communications between the inventor and invention company (what was actually said), and what was actually promised (and reasonably expected).  Our Allegheny County lawyers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania fight for a significant recovery.


Our Pittsburgh attorneys offer a free consultation to evaluate evidence and possible suit against any anyone (not just invention development companies) regarding:

  • Deception of any kind,

  • Misleading conduct,

  • Any failure to deliver goods and services as promised,

  • Breach of contract,

  • Fraudulent misrepresentation,

  • Unjust enrichment,

  • Failure to protect the confidentiality of an invention idea idea, and/or

  • Any violation of the American Inventor’s Protection Act.


Our attorneys sue for breach of contract, which is supposed to make the aggrieved party “whole,” meaning, if you win or settle your case, you may get the return of your money and intellectual property rights to your idea. A claim for fraud or unfair consumer practices entails more remedies. With claims of intentional misconduct, one can also recover an award for attorney fees, plus punitive damages potentially, depending on the facts in the case.

In Pennsylvania, proof of fraud requires “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a high standard.  Hence, it pays to have good legal representation.


Our experienced Pittsburgh attorneys offer a free consultation about an inventor’s rights.  We evaluate whether a claim exists for breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, or a violation of the American Inventor’s Protection Act.

 (412) 780.0008

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