A recent western Pennsylvania federal court decision has underscored the importance of speaking with a patent attorney during the process of developing an invention.
The court upheld an earlier arbitration ruling that an “invention-services” company violated the American Inventors Protection Act and awarded twice the fees it charged – and $10,000 worth of attorney’s fees – to the woman who brought the suit against the company.
The violations of the act occurred when the company made misleading statements concerning the viability of the product idea the woman presented, according to the arbitrator.
Unfortunately, there have been dozens of cases where invention-services or invention promotion companies have had to defend themselves against fraudulent behavior from a potential inventor. The cases cost the inventor tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees fighting against the company they believe misrepresented the invention’s viability.
While invention-services companies can be useful in some areas, there are still areas where a seasoned legal professional is imperative for helping you protect your intellectual property. Invention-services companies tout their prowess at getting an idea to market and can help with the product development and sourcing, and in many cases they are successful in helping inventors. However, they can’t misrepresent that their services are necessary for consumers to license their ideas, and that they can help determine the patentability of ideas.
First-time inventors and small businesses most likely aren’t familiar with the intricacies that go into protecting an idea for a new product. While invention-service companies assert that they can help with the filing of provisional patent materials, this is a crucial step where action and non-action can have grave consequences in protecting an idea. It is impossible to maintain the value of an invention unless the inventor takes all of the steps necessary to protect that idea.
Anyone with questions about the process of obtaining a patent or developing an invention can reach out to me or anyone in the Barley Snyder Intellectual Property Practice Group.