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Avoiding invention scams.

QA I have an invention I came up with for cars. The Patent & Trademark Institute of America wants to go with my project, but I would have to pay $750 to start the project. I only have a rough sketch/diagram and I do not have a prototype. I'm trying to find out where to take my invention and who to trust.

--Michael B.

Via the Internet

Finding a reputable company to help you get your invention into the marketplace can be an overwhelming task. There are invention promotion firms available to assist you with developing a prototype. But be very cautious: not all invention firms are legitimate.

Numerous independent inventors have lost thousands of dollars to promoters who make false or exaggerated claims about the market potential of the inventions.

Before making a commitment to any invention promotion firm, inventors should ask for references from current clients and check out the firm's reputation. If you've hired a patent attorney or agent, ask him or her about the firm's reputation before committing yourself.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office set up a public forum on its Website ( offices/com/iip/complaints.htm), where it lists complaints against invention promoters and promotion firms. You can call the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Inventors Assistance Center at 800-786-9199 for publications about inventions.

Mail your small business questions to Savvy Solutions, BLACK ENTERPRISE 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011 or send an e-mail to
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Title Annotation:SAVVY SOLUTIONS
Author:Johnson, James C.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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