1 Sage advice from the land of Saints and Scholars

The Irish Patents Office has issued a warning to inventors about invention promotion companies that claim to be able to develop inventions but do little other than prey upon the expectations of vulnerable inventors. The warning reads:
Invention Promotion Companies

People are constantly trying to develop their ideas and commercially market them. Some people try to sell their idea or invention to a manufacturer who would market it and pay royalties. But finding a company to do that can be difficult. As an alternative, others consider using the services of an invention or patent promotion firm.

Advertisements for invention promotion firms appear on television, radio and the Internet, and in newspapers and magazines. These advertisements target independent inventors often with offers of free information on how to patent and successfully bring their inventions to the market. However, inventors should be aware that

* No one can guarantee the commercial success of an invention or product,

* Few inventions ever make it to the marketplace; and

* although a patent can provide valuable protection for a successful invention, getting a patent doesn't necessarily imply commercial success.

Contracting for the services of an invention promotion firm is no different to any other major financial transaction. Common sense should be applied.

Before entering into a contract, you should obtain independent legal and financial advice from a reputable practitioner. Like any other financial or contractual transaction you should be sure before signing any agreement or contract (verbal or written) that you understand all the conditions before you sign. Be sure that what you agreed and only what you have agreed is in the contract/agreement.

Do not disclose details of your invention without a prior confidentiality agreement.

Investigate the company before you make any commitment. Request information from the place in which the company is based and where it is operating to find out if there are any unresolved consumer complaints about the firm.

Be clear about the service being offered and the costs associated with each stage, from the "research" about your invention, through to proposals to market or licence it. If, for example a company offers to evaluate your invention for a fee, be certain of what that evaluation entails and what you will receive at the end of the evaluation.

A reliable company should be able to supply details of the number of inventions evaluated for commercial potential, the number of positive evaluations and the number that were negative and rejected. It should also be able to provide details of the number of successful clients and the names of clients who have made a financial profit as a direct result of the company's efforts. You should consult previous clients and verify the information.

If the company offers the services of a patent agent or patent attorney enquire if those persons are registered.
The IPKat, who knows he has quite a few small-scale inventors among his readers, wishes to endorse this message. "Helping hand" companies can turn out to be wolves in sheep's clothing.

2 CIPA Journal

The IPKat has only just got round to reading the August 2005 issue of the CIPA Journal (CIPA being the UK's Chartered Intstitute of Patent Agents). The Kat marvels at how much the CIPA Journal has improved in recent years, not just in terms of its rather smart format but also in terms of the quality of its content. The journal's prime aim is to serve the needs of its members, which it does by

* addressing contemporary issues in patent law and practice and

* keeping members up-to-date with professional issues such as training, disciplinary procedures, rights of audience before the courts and the institute's involvement in law reform processes.

This issue contains an excellent article by Japanese lawyer John A. Tessensohn on the Supreme Court of Japan's decision in Sumisho Computer Systems Corporation v A & Institute of Medicinal Molecular Design, on the right of a patent owner to seek injunctive relief even after granting an exclusive licence to a third party, as well as Ian R. Craig's piece on the fate of E-Data's Freeny patent in Europe. The IPKat says, keep up the good work!


  1. One invention promotion company, US based,relocated in Ireland a few years ago. Its departure from London has been the subject of speculation. A telephone number regularly advertised on television will put you in touch. It is excellent that the Irish Patent Office is issuing a warning similar to that issued some years ago by the UK Patent Office. The writer has rescued a number of people from such firms before they paid big money: £5000+.

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