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montysimmons, Patent Prosecutor
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 328
Experience:  Electrical Engineer, South Carolina Attorney, Member of US Patent Bar
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Hello, We have been working with Inventhelp with an idea

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We have been working with Inventhelp with an idea that we want to be produced, manufactured and put on the shelves. They told us that we did not need a patent because the companies they work with have confidentiality agreements. They are asking for $11,000 from us to pitch the idea to over 200 of their companies in hopes that one is interested. I think they are a scam but I believe in my husbands idea. I think that we should get a patent so we are protected but not sure of the cost of this either. Please help. We live in MD.

montysimmons :

  • Patents are expensive.

  • A patent does not give the patent owner the right to make a product. A patent gives the patent owner the right to keep others from making a product. Restated, one does not need a patent on a product to legally make and sell such product.

  • Once an invention is used in public (non experimental use), one has 1 year to file a patent application or lose patent rights in the invention forever.

  • Once an invention (that is ready for patenting) is offered for sale (or sold), one has a year to file a patent application or lose patent rights in the invention forever.

  • Having an outside vendor make prototypes of an invention can qualify as an offer for sale ("back door sale") thereby starting the 1 year clock.

  • Once an invention is described in a publically available printed publication in sufficient detail to allow one to make and use the invention, one has 1 year to file a patent application or lose patent rights in the invention forever.

  • Once an invention is disclosed to another without a duty to keep confidential, one has 1 year to file a patent application or lose patent rights in the invention forever.

  • For a non-provisional UTILITY patent application, should the USPTO award a patent, one can expect such event to occur about 3 years from the date of the first office visit. Once a patent application is filed, one can put “Patent Pending” on their product and sell it while waiting the estimated 2.0 – 3.5 years for the USPTO to issue a patent.

  • When all expenses are considered, one can easily have $4,000 to $5,000 (and more) in a UTILITY patent.

montysimmons :

Consider these stats for a law suit against one invention promotion company.

montysimmons :

There have been lawsuits filed against companies that help develop/promote inventions.

Consider these numbers from one such law suit taken from court records (the name of the invention promotion firm has been changed to “DELTA” - if there is an invention promotion firm with the name “DELTA” such is by happenstance):

Over a period of 5 years: 45,709 inventors purchased a “PreDevelopment Agreement” (PDA) from DELTA costing $695.

Such $695 represented an initial investment. Filing for patents and product design and prototype services were extra.

Of the 45,709 inventors that purchased the PDA, the total number of inventors that were able to sell/license their idea to a company was 282 (0.62% ---- restated, 99.4% failed to even get a license agreement).

Of the 282 inventors that did get a license agreement, only 10 made more money in royalties than they paid to DELTA for their services (0.02% of the 45,709 made money; 99.98% failed to make money).

montysimmons :

BotXXXXX XXXXXne : Patents are a long shot. The vast majority of Patents never make the patent owner a single dime.

montysimmons :

ALL THAT SAID and now that I have scared you, consider this.

Now consider the Hula Hoop : a toy consisting of a plastic circle/ring


Say there was no such toy. Someone walks into my office with a plastic circle and says: “Hey Monty, can you get me a patent on this toy?”


I might be inclined to say: “Are you crazy? I can get a patent on it but what a waste of money. No one will buy that.”


So how successful was the Hula Hoop ?


The hoop gained international popularity in the late 1950s when a plastic version was successfully marketed by California's Wham-O toy company.

With give-aways and national marketing and retailing, a fad was started in July, 1958; twenty-five million plastic hoops were sold in less than four months, and in two years sales reached more than 100 million units. When the hula hoop craze swept the country, 50,000 hula hoops per day were being made.

montysimmons :

Go Figure. One never knows.

montysimmons :

If one has the money to file for a patent and market the item (make prototypes, and marketing), then sure, apply for a patent if a patent search indicates you have a good chance.

But do not count on a patent making you rich. A patent is much more likely to make one poorer.

Your Situation


If one truly believes they have a great idea, then I recommend you have someone search the patent database and the internet to make sure no one has had the same idea.

If you idea is truly novel, then I would file a provisional patent application that covers the basics of your idea. Should cost about $1,000.


This provisional gives you a year to develop your idea, make any necessary changes and test marking to see if the idea will sell.


Depending on the out come of the above, if all looks good, then before the provisional expires (1 year after filing) I would fine a NON-provisional application to cover the idea.


Confidentially agreements are nice but they only keep honest people honest. If I were going to use inventhelp, I would file a provisional myself using software off the internet to have draft the application and I would not tell Inventhelp I had filed the application.


Not that they are crooks, I have no idea, but when planning for the future, one should hope for the best but plan for the worst.


Planning for the worst, one has to plan that: (1) you have a great idea, (2) someone at inventhelp or associated with inventhelp might try to steal your idea.


Filing a provisional is an added level of protection but keep the application confidential and do not disclose to anyone.

A provisional $65 to file if you do it yourself. Just make good drawings of the idea, show top, bottom, side, perspective, and exploded views and explain it in nice clear language as if you were trying to tell someone how to make and assemble the item and how to use the item.

Such an application will be no where near as good a patent attorney would generate but it will be good enough for $65 and a little time.





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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have heard that Inventhelp is on a black list of companies that all patent lawyers know about and are complete scams. They already have our idea so what would stop them from stealing it now?

I do not know if Inventhelp is a scam or not. The problem is that ALMOST ALL patents cover ideas that have little or no value.

I doubt invention promotion company will try to steal your idea. All they have to do is get that $10,000 and do work for you that cost about $1,000 and they have a HUGE profit. Then multiply that by 1000s of people and the profit is tremendous without having to steal one idea.

What you could do is ask Inventhelp to provide you with statistics of how many of their clients have actually made money compared to how many have failed to make money. Such would be interesting.

Just know that almost all patents make the patent owner poorer yet all Patents make the government richer, lawyers richer, and invention promotion companies richer. So everyone has the incentive to "lead you on" and tell you your idea is great.

It is tough being an honest patent attorney as the statistics are very disheartening and I ALWAYS disclose the statistics to my clients. Which means I scare away a significant number of my potential clients.

IN your case, file a provisional application that you do yourself. It will cost you $65. There are software packages that help you draft the application which will cost more but I suspect they are worth the money.

As for paying any invention promotion company thousands of dollars, very, very risky.

In any event, once you have the provisional on file at the USPTO, then consider your options and Inventhelp might be a good path.

What you are trying to do is NOT easy. Lots of people have tried and failed. Yet some have tried and succeeded greatly.

The first step, file the provisional (since you have disclosed the invention to another).

Then perform a search or have someone perform a search of the USPTO database to see if your idea is truly novel; if your idea is novel, look for ways to market your idea that does not cost $10,000.

Check out sites such as and

If your idea is novel and proves to be popular, then at least 3 months before the 1 year anniversary of the filing date for the provisional, see a patent attorney and have a non-provisional filed.

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