America Invents Mini Section - Correction Regarding SLAPP
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InventorEd had flagged America Invents with a link to our SLAPP warning. That is not precisely correct. In fact America Invents did not sue, rather they used the arbitration - mediation process to silence a former client with a gag agreement.
A year ago (February 2006) Bill Seidel, current president of America Invents contacted InventorEd arguing that he should not be listed on the caution section. We agreed to review the case and he sent a large packet, mostly fluff of what amounted to testimonials. Unfortunately the packet lacked contact information to verify the claims and when asked for that information Bill Seidel failed to reply. So we closed the case, filed all the papers, and took no action due to his unresponsiveness.
A year elapsed with no communications from Mr. Seidel. Last week he sent a lengthy letter whining about the impact of the listing on the caution list, especially focusing on the injustice of the SLAPP link, and making a slew of threats from trying to get InventorEd decertified as a nonprofit to litigation.
I found the threat about involving the IRS especially ironic, in that a complaint is just as likely to bring America Invents and those who are associated with it quality IRS attention.
Since receiving a communication from Bill Seidel we have been reviewing the case in depth. He is right that it was not a SLAPP per se, but it amounted to the same thing. America Invents apparently has a mandatory arbitration clause in their contract, and arbitration is handled by a retired judge who apparently has a very cordial relationship with America Invents.
The case which I was referring to involved an inventor who sent a three page letter to me withdrawing his complaint. It was very clear that he was very agitated when he wrote the letter, that he had been cowered and that he had been forced to sign a gag agreement. I called him and started the conversation by asking if his money was returned, and he blurted out NO, but then he continued by saying that he just wanted to put it behind him and that he really could not talk about the case.
So the bottom line is that I think that America Invents used arbitration in the same way a SLAPP suit is used. This is a new twist in gagging disgruntled clients which we will now update the SLAPP web page to include.
Any business which has to resort to gagging former clients, which many view as abuse of the process of law, needs a serious attitude adjustment. All companies like America Invents need to do to avoid such situations is adopt a contingency fee business model. If they are as good as they claim, surely both they and inventor clients would prosper with a contingency fee based marketing agreement.
Read the Caution Flags List at http://www.InventorEd.org/flaglist/ .
Another information source is: Invention Marketing Companies .