You have no doubt heard radio commercials or seen television advertisements for companies claiming to assist inventors in promoting their invention. The web is saturated with advertisements and web sites which promote one or another invention promotion outfit. Most of these invention promotion organizations are located in the United States; however, many of them have “branch” offices here in Canada. What are these organizations and what is it that they do (or rather claim to do) on behalf of inventors? In this article, I'll try to explain what these organizations are, how they work and why they are unlikely to meet your needs. If you are interested in marketing your invention, I suggest you do it yourself rather than turn to any of these invention promotion organizations. You can start by taking a look at our page on marketing your invention.
Having been practicing in the area of patent law for nearly 20 years now, I can tell you that I have never come across an invention promotion organization that I would ever refer a client to. If I knew of such an organization, I would be eager to refer them clients, since marketing one’s invention is a key component to any client’s success. I, like most lawyers, want successful clients - successful clients give lawyers a lot of work, and they are much more likely to pay their bills. Therefore, I have a vested interest in finding credible invention promotion businesses. Despite this vested interest, I have not found a single such organization that I would ever feel comfortable sending a client to. Why? Because I have never come across such an organization that I was convinced provided the client with any meaningful value for their investment.
When I first started my career as a patent lawyer/agent, I came across several clients who had each invested literally thousands of dollars in one particular invention promotion company. What they usually got for their money was a “preliminary patent search” and/or “marketability report” of questionable value and a nice bound book with lots of colourful graphs illustrating how much money the inventor could make by marketing their invention through the company. I must admit I was impressed the first time I saw the nicely bound document. I was less impressed when I saw substantially the same document for the third or forth time. I began to question the objectivity of an organization which produced “marketability reports” which consistently painted a strikingly similar portrait of success. Indeed, after practicing for a few years it became apparent to me that it was all but impossible to predict which products would succeed in the marketplace and which would fail. In fact, if it was possible for a marketing prognosticator to accurately separate “winning” products from “losing” products, then should not that prognosticator be working on Bay street (or Wall street) picking winning stocks from losing stocks? Why would such a person earn a relatively meager living by charging a few thousand dollars for his/her services when they could easily earn millions managing a large stock portfolio? Hint: they would not because they do not exist. So how can an invention promotion organization know that your product will succeed in the marketplace? They can not. Nobody can. Who could have predicted that the WALKMAN would have been such a success? How about the Pet Rock, the CHIA PET, the IPOD, Youtube.com, ebay, or even google? Nobody could have predicted their success, and nobody did except for those relatively few people who were smart enough (or lucky enough) to invest early.
Therefore, the first thing to note about any invention promotion organization is this - THEY CAN NOT PICK WINNERS FROM LOSERS ANY BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE.
So, now you know why I do not refer clients to invention promotion companies - I do not think they provide much value. That is not to say that all invention promotion people are not worth the fees they charge - I have just never met one after 20 years of trying. I should say that there are one group of invention promotion people who are worth every penny they are paid - the "marketing people". Guess what - they are usually all in-house (i.e. employed by the companies whose products they are trying to promote). The ones that are not in-house are in well appointed offices on Bay Street (Wall Street, Madison Avenue, etc) and probably do not want to talk to you because they only talk to first tier companies who can afford their outrageous rates.
Marketing your invention is possible. Indeed, it’s absolutely necessary and I encourage you all to do it. However, do not have any illusions about the process. The fact is nobody is going to sell your invention for you. There are plenty of “promoters” who would be very happy to charge you several thousand dollars to try to sell your invention for you. If you hire them, all I can say to you is good luck. In the twenty years or so that I have been doing this, I have never heard of anyone making a dime using an invention promoter. I have come across several dozen people who have spend literally thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it but a nicely bound book with pretty pictures in it.If you are interested in marketing your invention, take a look at our page on marketing your invention.