There are companies that will solicit invention submissions through advertising. There are guidelines you should follow if you communicate with any of these companies.
They appeal to thousands of inventors who are unfamiliar on how to commercialize their inventions.
They request invention submissions in order to solicit advanced funds for services they sell to inventors.
These services are promoted as being helpful steps in pursuing a licensing arrangement for your invention.
These services are sold like steps on a ladder. They may offer the first step free, which is to evaluate your invention to see if they can sell you their services. They usually send you an information kit that contains a promotional brochure explaining the importance of inventors and inventions.
In this first step they will usually provide information about their company, their services, and fees.
This "kit" often includes a brief non-disclosure agreement stating that any information you send is confidential. There is also a form requesting a description and/or drawing of your invention.
This is the basic template that an invention submission company sends to inventors.
Alternatively, many invention submission companies don't care if your invention is profitable or not.
The problem with 93% of these companies is that they don't know how to license an invention any more than 93% of inventors.
It's the blind leading the blind.
Imagine being lost in the woods.
You see a sign nailed on a tree that says, "Lost. We can help. Just whistle."
Along comes a boy scout who says he can try to find a way out of the woods. He is wearing a boy scout uniform. He has badges and patches all over his shirt. He even has a compass.
He tells you to follow him but that he needs to share your food and water. You agree and the both of you start walking. He eats all your food and drinks all your water.
After a while you realize you have been walking in circles.
You don't have any food or water.
You are weary and tired.
The boy scout tells you to rest while he goes to search for food and water. He never returns. You sit there feeling hopeless.
It turns out that the boy scout wasn't actually a boy scout. His uniform wasn't a real scout uniform nor were his badges and patches.
However, he never said he was a boy scout.
He never represented himself as a boy scout.
He never agreed or promised to get you out of the woods - he only said he would try to help you.
You agreed to share your food and water in exchange for following him in circles.
He didn't do anything illegal. It may be immoral but it was not a crime. It was just two people lost in the woods trying to help each other out.
A licensing agent, or agency, does not sell services to develop and commercialize your invention. They may charge you a nominal fee to review your material.
They may suggest what is missing or what you need. Their interest is in making money when they license or sell your invention. You have to convince them that your invention is profitable. Licensing agents that represent inventors are selective about their clients. Most of their fees are on a contingency basis.
This means they get paid if they are successful in licensing or selling your invention.
They are more interested in clients that are properly prepared and have a profitable invention. They will accept clients because they are reasonably certain they can sell or license their invention.
Companies that solicit invention submissions are usually interested in the profitability of their services.
You should check with a consumer protection agency for any information concerning an invention submission company, including the names of the officers of the company. In the United States, this agency is the Federal Trade Commission. They have a website search.
You can use a search function on their website to find information about most invention submission companies. You can also use the search function to check the names of individuals who own these companies.
Questions You Should Ask
Ask the invention submission company to disclose, in writing, their success rate for licensing inventions over the past five years. This would include how many clients they have represented and how many received licensing agreements.
Ask them to provide you, in writing, the names of invention submission companies that it or it's officers have been involved with in the past. This is because they may have a history of operating under different names in an attempt to avoid liability.