How many journalists have seen a TV commercial, heard a radio ad, or seen ads in print publications which purport to lead inventors to riches and glory? Well virtually every one of these operations are scams where the client's success rate vary from none to less than 0.2%. There are scores of these companies, who collectively have hundreds of branches which are fleecing people in virtually every community in the US - and Australia, Canada, Ireland & the United Kingdom.
Yet these companies are prospering and new ones spring up like weeds. Some of these companies are founded by employees of older ones who saw how much money their former employer was making and decided to get rich quick. Others are new corporate entities who quickly rise from the ashes of a previous company who ran afoul of the law.
Corporations which lay dormant for years suddenly spring to life. The same business in the same location, many of the same employees, the same phone numbers, and the same client lists - all that changes is the corporate name. Weeks after opening with a new name they are touting having been in business for years, this in spite of the fact that the corporate name was an idle shell for all those years.
The biggest and most aggressive invention promoter is Invention Submission Corporation (ISC) http://www.inventored.org/caution/isc/. They have over fifty branches in the US and also branches in Australia - Canada - Ireland & the United Kingdom. ISC also has a maze of related companies. ISC paid the FTC $1.2 million dollars in a settlement a few years ago.
A few other of the most notorious promoters are:
Advent See: www.InventorEd.org/caution/advent/
For a more complete list comprised of over fifty such companies, a list which includes the names of specific people and links to FTC actions see: www.InventorEd.org/caution/list/.
Invention promoters, especially ISC, have a history of threatening anyone http://www.inventored.org/caution/isc/iscthreat.html who speaks out about the fact that their services are virtually worthless. I believe ISC have people monitoring all the inventor discussion groups. Most people who post advising inventors to stay away from ISC receive letters threatening them with litigation.
This has a chilling effect on the exercise of free speech and public discussion of these important public policy issues. Most people stop mentioning ISC in public posts after receiving such threats.
The National Invention Fraud Center (NIFC) founded by patent attorney Mike Neustel was sued by ISC near two years ago. Knowing that they would likely not fare well if the case came to trial ISC used the same tactics commonly used by companies who steal inventor's work. Namely they used delaying tactics and a slew of meritless actions which ran the costs up in excess of $100,000 for NIFC. Financially drained NIFC finally settled the case, and all mention of ISC disappeared from their web site and Mr. Neustel only comments when asked about the disposition of the case is that he can not talk about it.
But the story can be gleaned by examining the public court documents. A RICO complaint brought by NIFC in the case clearly details that ISC's suit against NIFC was a SLAPP suit. That it's sole purpose was to cost NIFC so much money that they had no choice except to fold.
Now that NIFC has removed all mention of specific invention promoters, including ISC, the caution pages on the InventorEd web site are the only publicly accessible list left available. The alternative to the InventorEd list is to comb through all the public documents, FTC and others, to put the picture together.
Such an undertaking represents hundreds of hours in research time. In fact, the creation of this list and showing the connections between the different companies and especially how the same key people have founded new companies as law enforcement closes in on the existing companies is a perfect example of computer assisted reporting (CAR) for much of the information was culled using online resources.
I hope that journalists would see that the invention promotion industry has run amuck. That the industry's attempts to quell the first amendment for personal profit is a serious problem. And even if they were not attacking freedom of speech that journalists would recognize that many inventors who would have launched business's which created local jobs will fail after being fleeced by these parasites.
InventorEd cannot give this problem enough media exposure alone. I am asking that journalists who have invention promoters in their areas work with us to give this issue the public exposure it needs.
Please join me in shining the disinfecting light of media attention on this problem.
There are a number of interesting story lines:
1) The personal tragedy of
Ronald J. Riley