Finding a Needle in a Haystack

legitimate invention promoters

How much should they charge?

A new inventor who contacted what he felt was a legitimate invention marketing company was puzzled -- "I asked the cost and was quoted between two and five thousand dollars depending on the share of the royalties I agree to let them keep. Is that reasonable?" You will probably wonder the same thing if an invention promoter asks you for money.

You should wonder why a company isn't willing to contribute their time if you are contributing an idea that they claim is worth millions. Why should you trust their "talent" for spotting valuable ideas if they won't invest their time for the privilege of sharing the riches? Think of it this way:

Imagine that some business claimed to be an oil exploration company and was really anxious to help you explore for oil. They say that they tested your land for evidence of oil and they lead you to believe that the results are very promising. When you agree to let them drill on your land, would you begin to get suspicious if they wanted to charge you for the opportunity to share in the riches you own? How would you feel if they couldn't prove that they ever struck oil before?

You may already know that it actually takes much more than a few thousand dollars to develop and market most inventions. Even if you only want to license your idea to someone who will do the development and marketing at their expense, there will be travel to attend meetings, contract negotiations and legal fees which could total hundreds of thousands. A good patent alone can cost several thousand dollars.

Some invention promoters may tell you that it costs much more than they are asking from you, but that the more you contribute, the bigger your share of the royalties will be. Still, you are supposedly contributing a million dollar idea already and the money they want is just a drop in the bucket compared to the total. Why are they so concerned about a few thousand when they seem sure your idea is so valuable?

It's because they probably didn't put any thought into the value of your product at all and they don't plan to spend much time marketing it. They tell you that you can keep more of the royalties if you pay more up front because they hope you will be greedy and give them everything you can possibly afford. This is a scam. If you investigate, you are likely to find that the inventions they've promoted never made a penny in royalties. The broker makes all of their money from the up-front fee you give them.

The brokers up-front fee is what they calculate the average, enthusiastic, but naive, inventor is willing to risk. It's not so much that no one could afford it. And, people learn that it's too costly to sue when they realize they've been taken. It's very hard for the inventor to win even a case if he does sue because most invention brokers actually do the work they say they will do. They just don't do it well enough to get results and they make sure the "fine print" says that they didn't promise you anything.

The real ones . . .

There are legitimate companies who will develop and promote your idea and not charge you anything. They realize that most inventors can't begin to share in the cost of product development and promotion, so they don't bother to ask. However, they only select ideas that they have thoroughly researched and truly believe have potential.

Authur D. Little Co. has such a program called Authur D. Little Enterprises (ADLE). They accept about two percent of the ideas submitted to them. And about one thousand are sent to them each year. (Links to more information about the ADLE program will be provided at the end of this overview.) Authur D. Little is a large, prestigious product development firm. They have the financial resources to bring a product to market and the expertise to do it. Their main business is providing full service consulting to large, industrial clients for huge, costly, high tech projects.

Study the way that ADLE evaluates and selects projects even if you don't plan to use them. That will show you what to expect from a legitimate invention development and promotion company.

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Ron O'Connor, P.E.

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