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Budding inventors are being warned to beware of unscrupulous invention promoters by the Patent Office.

Inventions can lead to the beginning of a successful small business, with many able to profit from untapped markets. However, many inventors are putting their faith in less than reputable promoters due to a lack of understanding over patent laws and intellectual property rights, according to the Patent Office.

Many fraudsters also heap praise on a product they don’t really believe in to encourage the inventor to part with sums of cash in order to market it through a second party.

High charges from promoters can produce major financial risks for inventors, so much so that many never get to the stage of starting up their own business despite the potential of their product.

Even worse, there have been cases where dubious promoters have failed to mention intellectual property rights, which ensure that the invention is licensed to the inventor, and went on to champion the idea as their own.

Sean Dennehey, director of patents at the Patent Office, said: “Invention promotion firms offer to help you evaluate, develop and market your idea. But first you have to be clear about whether you have made the right choice of firm.

“Some inventors find themselves broke and without proper intellectual property protection after using the services of a rogue invention promoter.”

Here is a list of useful tips and advice provided by the Patents Office:

  • If you approach an invention promoter, make sure that details of your invention are kept confidential. Disclosing how the invention works without a confidentiality agreement will harm any future patent application.
  • Before you hand over any money or sign an agreement, ask the promoter about the stages involved, such as research, marketing and licensing, and any associated costs.
  • Most good invention promotion firms would have rejected lots of ideas in the first assessment stage as not commercially viable. Find out what percentage the firm has rejected as evidence of how seriously they look into inventions.
  • Direct any complaints on invention promoters to the Office of Fair Trading.

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