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Dave Purdue





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Purdue Law Offices, LLC, Lawyers (Also See Attorneys), Toledo, OH

Invention Promotion, Marketing And Licensing Companies

It should not shock anyone to read that there are unscrupulous companies who prey on inventors. We urge you to consider the warnings concerning these kinds of companies issued by the:

We have spoken with a number of inventors who suspect that there are unscrupulous companies, but they suspect that those companies are unscrupulous because they steal inventions. In all of our experience, we have never encountered a case where a company stole someone’s invention. What we have seen, time after time, are cases where companies steal dreams and extract large sums of money for worthless services. The scenario is remarkably consistent and involves three stages. We have been contacted by inventors at each one of the stages and some of their stories are related below.

Some inventors contact us after hearing the high pressure sales approach and getting turned off (Stage 1).

Some inventors contact us after they’ve paid hundreds of dollars and received a glowing evaluation AND a proposed contract for invention promotion, marketing and/or licensing services AND high pressure sales tactics aimed at getting the inventor to sign the contract (Stage 2).

Some inventors contact us after they have paid or financed the cost (these days, the average cost is about $12,000) of invention promotion, marketing and/or licensing services (Stage 3).


Sally came to our office seeking counsel about her idea for a shoe. She and her sixteen year old son had traveled to Detroit and met with a representative of one of these companies. Before telling the representative what her idea was, Sally entered into a confidential disclosure agreement with the company. According to the agreement, the company would keep whatever information she shared with it confidential. She shared her idea for a shoe with the company’s representative and he became very enthusiastic. Sally took it all in and, eventually, she got up to go home and think over what she had heard from the representative. As she and her son walked out to the car, her son turned to her and said "He was trying to take you" and she knew that her son was right.

Sally didn’t want to give up at that point so she called Purdue Law Offices and came in for a free half hour consultation. Her concept was to combine a pump style of shoe with a sole and heel that was more comfortable and practical than what had been customarily used on pumps up to then. She had not invented the "pump style" shoe nor had she invented a sole and heel. We explained to Sally that there was no reasonable prospect of getting a patent that would give her the right to prevent others from making, using or selling all shoes made according to her concept. We explained that, without such a patent, she would not be in a good position to sell her idea or license her invention because unpatented ideas and inventions can be freely copied. Thus, if a company agreed to pay her for her invention, it would be at a commercial disadvantage because its competitors could copy the invention but would not have to pay Sally for her idea.

This made sense to her. She then explained to us that what she really wanted was for a shoe company to start offering a shoe like the one that she envisioned so that she could buy a pair. We suggested that she contact shoe companies and suggest that they offer something along the lines that she was envisioning.

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Dan came to our office with a book and a contract proposal. The book turned out to be a custom report prepared exclusively for Dan about his invention by one of these companies. The contract proposal called for him to pay $10,000 to the company in exchange for services including the preparation of a brochure describing his invention, a CD with the brochure on it, names and addresses of companies that might have some interest in the invention, taken from the company’s vast database, and the company’s promise to represent him in connection with the promotion and licensing of his invention. The contract went so far as to recite that the company would pay for the cost of patenting Dan’s invention. However, the company was only obligated to pay for patenting IF he was successful in licensing his invention.

We looked through the book and discovered that Dan had invented a residential fire extinguishing device. The invention included a hose stored on a reel that was mounted under a kitchen sink. On one end of the hose was a nozzle and on the other end of the hose was one half of a quick disconnect fitting. The other end of the quick disconnect fitting was mounted on the water spout of the faucet. In case a fire broke out, the invention made it possible to connect a water hose and begin dousing the fire with water within seconds. There were four patents in the book with drawings of fire hoses but they didn’t describe the invention or anything even close to it. Dan was excited about his invention and so was the invention promotion company that prepared the book. He received several follow-up calls from the company after he received the book. The caller wanted to know if Dan was ready to move forward (by paying the $10,000).

Dan asked us for advice and we suggested that a search be made to see what patents (besides the irrelevant patents that were included in his book) were out there that might give us a clue about his chances for protecting his invention with a patent. We ran a search and pulled up a list of about 40 US patents that included the words KITCHEN, SINK, FIRE and HOSE. When we looked at US Patent Number 4,557,289 (see it here), Dan said "That’s it". He recognized immediately that he could not hope to get a patent that would give him any kind of protection for his invention. He also understood that he would not ever be in a position where he could hope to license his invention to a company that would pay him royalties because his invention was in the public domain. It was described in an expired patent.

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Sharon called our office days after financing twelve thousand dollars worth of "submission to industry" services. She had become concerned about her decision to move forward so she made an appointment with Purdue Law Offices. When she arrived for her appointment, she told her story.

Sharon’s story is typical. She discovered a need and she invented a product to meet that need. She began to wonder about the value of her invention and she realized that she knew very little about making money with her invention. Eventually, she called an "800" number and received a free inventor’s kit. Sharon wound up writing a description of her invention on the disclosure forms provided by the company and was persuaded to hire the company, for hundreds of dollars that she did not have, to prepare a basic information package report. The company even arranged financing for the cost of the report. When the report (you can see the report here) arrived, it outlined three options. She could do nothing; she could try to stimulate interest in her invention herself; or she could hire the company to submit her invention to industry. There was even a proposed contract for these submission services.

Soon after the report arrived, Sharon’s phone started ringing and she received numerous calls from the company. Eventually, she and her husband traveled north to one of the company’s many offices throughout the U.S. and, before they left, they had agreed to pay $12,000 for the company’s help in submitting the invention to industry, and they had financed the entire cost.

Sharon’s invention, in case you didn’t read the report, is a handle for use with a standard urine specimen collection cup. Sharon even had a prototype of her invention which she had cut out of cardboard. There was a handle portion and, at one end of the handle, was an open ring shaped portion adapted to receive and support a specimen collection cup. The invention was specifically made to facilitate the collection of a urine specimen by/from a female.

Unfortunately, Sharon was not the first person to have this idea nor did she have any chance for getting a patent that would stop others from using her idea, at least at the level to which she had developed it. She was not even the first person to come to our office with this general concept. We were in the unfortunate position of having to explain that her concept was not new and was not patentable and, therefore, there was simply no way that she could hope to benefit by having her invention submitted to industry. We examined the contract and discovered that a five day cooling off period had expired. We then contacted the company and explained that there was no purpose to be served by submitting her invention to industry because it was unprotectable. We persuaded the company to cancel the contract and to cancel the financing for the submission to industry services. We even persuaded the company to refund a portion of the cost of the initial report that it prepared. It was the initial report that helped the company persuade Sharon to take the plunge and hire the company to submit her invention to industry in the first place.

Ninety years ago, Justice Brandeis observed that "The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions-- knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas--become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use." Patents are an exception to this general rule of law. No medical supply company would pay an inventor to use her idea unless it was protected by a patent and the company hadn’t even discussed this with her before pressuring her to pay it $12,000 to submit her invention to industry.

The company outlined three options for Sharon and, to her credit, she made Purdue Law Offices a fourth option.

United States Patent & Trademark Office - Scam Prevention

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