Friday, December 30, 2005

Even AOL into Invention Promotion?

Today there is a link on AOL's main page titled "Turn your ideas into cash". What is this? Clicked on it.

Click took me not to an article but to a search page. Search words "new invention". Search results, sponsored that is, were for Inventech, Davidson and other invention promotion firms.

AOL's headline should have read "Turn your cash over to someone else". More descriptive.

Yes there is cash there, there for the invention promotion firms. Their "clients" are on the giving, not the receiving, end.

It is extremely difficult to make any money on a new idea, unless it is in whatever field you are in. The only guaranty, of sorts, is that you will spend much money for nothing if you go to an invention promotion firm. Does not matter which one.

And I guess I need not wonder why so many people are so gullible. They not only hear it on radio, and see it on TV. Now even AOL is advertising for them. Anything for a buck. Disappointing. Think I will switch providers.

See FTC and USPTO links at the bottom of one of my prior postings.

Provisionals Increase the Delay

Yes, a provisional will increase the delay you will suffer because of the Patent Office backlog, rather than speeding anything up.

This post addresses the "patent pending in two weeks" or "... for $350" ads, and the misunderstandings they spread.

Simple facts. There is no such thing as a provisional patent. A provisional is a patent application, not a patent.

Both provisional and non-provisional patent application get you a "patent pending" instantly, the moment they are filed.

The practical differences between the two? A provisional adds costs and a year extra time-wise to the process.

Why does a provisional increase costs and time? Because it is not in line to be examined. You have no patent protection until a patent issues, and that cannot happen until the application is examined.

If you file a provisional first, you then must file a non-provisional. Your application does not get in line to be examined until it is a non-provisional. Your provisional has been wasting time, rather than moving up along the line as a nonprovisional would have been doing.

In addition, when you finally file a non-provisional, you won't receive any credit against the filing fee for the fee you paid when you filed the provisional. You are merely a year and money behind.

Why oh why don't those folks with the ads warn you? Guess.

Another way of saying it is -- if it sounds too good to be true, it isn't. (Starting with a professional patent search is even better, because you are wasting both your time and money if your idea is already known. But the folks with the ads won't warn you about that either.)

More information about provisionals -- see the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website at and on my website at

Reprinted from earlier publication at

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Another Day, Another Invention Promo Victim Call

She gave them whatever amount, and only balked when they wanted $1,500 more to "get her idea out there." She did the "poor man's patent" thing -- you know, mailed it to herself, and has the sealed envelope. Now the industry is using what she thinks is her idea. Will an attorney go after them.

I hear the same litany over and over. The invention promotion firm advertises on TV. Good choice? No.

The "poor man's patent" is worthless, and the invention promotion firms are not out to steal your idea. They want your money. And they target the "poor man's" folks because you fall for it. Simple as that. They rattle of figures -- the money you are going to make. Sounds good. Is awful.

It is very difficult to make any money from a new product idea, unless of course you have an established company in that field.

Next, to protect the idea you need a patent application. Not a "poor man's" whatever. And before you spend the money on a patent application, have a professional search done. By your attorney. By a registered patent attorney you hire to provide a professional opinion. And read that opinion. Believe it if it is negative.

Or instead you can give your money to those awfully nice, cheery folks at your local invention promotion firm. Why shouldn't they be cheery. There is a lot of profit, for them.

Please instead contact the United States Patent and Trademark Office at
Or the Federal Trade Commission at (search for invention promotion).
Or your local or state Bar Association for a referral. In Chicago contact

Additional information is available on my website, either through
or my other blog at

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Looking for a Second Bite of Your Finances

Just off a telephone call from someone who is being hounded by the scammers looking for a second bite of this person's finances. Certainly neither the first nor the last of such calls I have, and will, receive.

First bite comes along by trotting out to an invention promotion outfit with your "new" idea. Wrong move.

  • Unless you have a ready-made, small niche market, there is no chance of succeeding in the market without meaningful patent protection.
  • There is no chance of obtaining meaningful patent protection unless your "new" idea is both new and nonobvious at minimum in comparison to what is disclosed in the patent literature.
  • There is no chance of getting an opinion that is beneficial to you (rather than beneficial to the invention promotion outfit) through the outfit's own attorney (whose client is the outfit, not you).

So the outfit takes its bite of your finances. A significant bite. They get your money and you get (a) a meaningless design patent or uselessly narrower utility patent (sometimes only a worthless Disclosure Document) plus (b) an unsuccessful "show to companies" campaign.

Do not feel bad the campaign was unsuccessful. They always are. (You should feel bad about going to the outfit to begin with.)

And those folks who end up with a worthless patent are targets for the second bite. It might come from the same outfit or an outfit with a different name and address, or whatever. Your patent is in the database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as required by law. Probably more significantly, your name is on the outfit's list.

Hey, who better to try to bite than someone who was successfully bitten before. Hey, when they are not busy selling worthless (and sometimes harmful) services, they can sell their lists. There is a market for their lists.

So now these persons with worthless patents are getting offers to market their ideas. Hey, they will do it for $12,000. Don't have $12,000 to spare? Some will even throw in 50%. Why not? Their out-of-pocket costs for your new worthless "out to companies" campaign will be under $100, and their time investment under an hour. So why not take $6,000 for it, if that is all they can get from you.

This posting sounds rather nasty, because I am feeling rather angry. Angry at the scammers, and angry that there are so many victim-wannabe's out there. Flashy brochures, nifty offices and wonderful things to say about your idea. Convincing?

Don't walk, run. Run to your nearest bar association. If your city does not have one, the closest large city and your state will have one that has a referral service. Get a referral to a registered patent attorney. And get a patent search and opinion from that patent attorney. And if it is negative, you have saved yourself from someone's bite.

If the opinion is negative, and you decide the opinion is wrong, you are not listening. There is no help for that problem.

If the opinion leaves open an opportunity for meaningful patent protection, thing hard first. Truly understand that, while absence of meaningful patent protection will kill any success potential, patent protection does not provide the success you want. If there is no market for your product, or no market at the price it can be put out at, or no way to get to the market, its doomed.

If you still want to go forward, and can afford to loose the investment you will be making, then go for good patent protection, with your own attorney, and not some outfit's attorney.

More information on patents, and those forever-with-us (because it is so profitable for them) invention promotion folks, at, a recent FTC warning publication, on the USPTO website and the Federal Trade Commission website and regarding meaningful patent protection on my website and first blog at -- good reading and good luck to you.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Utility Patent Application, Yes

A recent inquiry was puzzled with the term "utility" patent application. What that person had was not a "utility" application, right? Wrong.

There are three types of U.S. patents. A design patent which protects the appearance of something. A plant patent which protects certain plant reproductions.

Everything else falls within the utility patent category. Its for when you want to protect something for what it does, or what one can do with it. In other words, its utility is the important feature.

A utility patent is so fundamental that its frequently just referred to as a patent, and if instead you mean a design patent or plant patent, you say design patent, plant patent.

So do not let the term "utility" disturb you. Read more about patents on the USPTO official website at or my website or use if easier to remember. (Both go to the same website, different entries.)