Robert Susa will jut his jaw Bill Cowher-like as he ponders.
And also as president of invention submission company InventHelp review, Susa’s been doing lots of pondering lately.
Since taking over the majority of the day-to-day operations from founder Martin Berger a couple of years ago, Susa has become vexed with what he believes is an unfair characterization of the company being a place that rips off inventors.
“Everybody here really cares about inventors,” Susa says. “We want to be the best guys.”
Susa says InventHelp isn’t for every single inventor. InventHelp is actually a turnkey, soup-to-nuts operation for hands-off inventors. It’s for the person who wants other people to approach potential licensees and put together virtual as well as other prototypes.
The company says it uses “a number of methods” to submit an understanding or new invention to companies, including mailings, publicity releases, advertising and attendance at trade shows.
“We simply do not assume that our opinion or anyone else’s opinion of the possible acceptability or market potential of a new product idea or invention is any not just that – an opinion,” InventHelp’s Site states. “We cannot make any correlation between that opinion and predictable acceptance with the marketplace. The sole opinions that matter are the ones of companies who may review your invention.”
While that seems pretty straight-forward, few companies inside the inventing industry happen to be as polarizing as InventHelp, the Pittsburgh-based business best known to a lot of as Invention Submission Corp. or ISC.
InventHelp will be the a trade name of Invention Submission Corp. (ISC), often known as Western Invention Submission Corp. plus a division of Technosystems Consolidated. InventHelp hosts the Invention & Cool Product Exposition or INPEX, the greatest inventor tradeshow in the usa.
InventHelp sales reps tell prospective customers their inventions are definitely the greatest things since sliced bread to promote them $800 information proposals. The proposals are based on a template – a mass-production, cookie-cutter binder of boilerplate with the description and picture of the invention electronically inserted – and brought to general addresses of targeted companies. And in case or when those info packets forget to produce a licensing agreement, InventHelp sales reps urge inventors to purchase upgraded services for thousands.
“We don’t evaluate inventions,” he says. “And we give everyone the total value of our services with the first meeting and survey clients to determine if they received that information at the start.”
When it comes to accusation that InventHelp locations offers cookie-cutter invention proposals as a technique to snooker inventors with escalating services and fees:
“We don’t pretend the original report is perhaps all encompassing,” Susa says. “The basic information package is exactly what we think we must present something into a company.
“Most patent attorneys utilize a template. After you describe an invention, you’re really speaking about the market it suits. That marketing facts are something we’ve purchased in government and other sources. The information is in regards to the market, not the invention.
“If you have a new baby product, whether it is a crib or possibly a bib, you’d look into the baby market,” he adds. “There might be a sameness with it.”
So that as for escalating fees, Susa says InventHelp’s fees “are presented to a customer at the first meeting. There’s no escalation. I know companies that keep looking for money; that’s not our policy by any means.”
To make certain, InventHelp has experienced a colorful history, including run-ins with the United states Patent and Trademark Office as well as the Federal Trade Commission.
In 1994, without admitting guilt together with no finding of wrong doing, the corporation settled allegations using the FTC, which said Invention Submission Corp., “misrepresented the type, quality and success rate of your promotion services it sold to consumers.”
Underneath the regards to a consent decree, the company create a $1.2 million account to cover refunds to customers. InventHelp also says it instituted greater oversight of sales reps, spread out over some 50 offices throughout the country.
“We have embraced the consent decree and have made it part of our corporate policy and culture,” Susa says. “Every new employee signs a document agreeing to go by the consent decree as being a condition of employment.”
The collective conduct of certain invention submission companies compelled the United states government to adopt the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, which requires those invention submission firms to show licensing success rates, among other things.
InventHelp continues to be the prospective of lawsuits and consumer complaints, many of which have the USPTO’s Web site. Other Web sites warn inventors to step away from your company.
This season InventHelp sued and settled an unfair competition case against Gene Quinn and his awesome wife Renee for unflattering posts on Quinn’s influential blog IPWatchdog.com. Although specifics of the settlement remain confidential, Quinn did remove some posts where he characterized InventHelp as being a scam.
Yet in today’s hyper-connected, information saturated society, may be the “scam” label really justified? Can an organization that’s been used since 1984 still thrive when it were “scamming” inventors on a regular basis?
“From 2007-2009, we signed Submission Agreements with 5,336 clients. On account of our services, 86 clients have received license agreements with regard to their products, and 27 clients have received more income compared to they paid us for these services.”
Which means .5 percent of InventHelp number clients made money from licensing agreements through InventHelp between 2007 and 2009. That’s double the amount percentage from years 2003 to 2005.
Inventions published to direct response TV or infomercial companies have success rates of about .5 percent, based on interviews Inventors Digest has conducted with Telebrands and Lenfest Media Group, both DRTV companies.
Meanwhile, InventHelp’s rival Davison Inc., also based in Pittsburgh, reports on its Website that during the last 5 years:
“The total amount of consumers who signed a Contingency Agreement or another licensing representation agreement is fifty thousand ninety eight (50,098). … The complete variety of consumers in the last five years who made more money in royalties compared to what they paid, altogether, under almost any agreements with Davison, is fourteen (14).”
Should you the math for Davison, that’s a .027 percent recovery rate during the last 5yrs.
San Francisco-based invention submission firm AbsolutelyNew will not list licensing success rates on its site. AbsolutelyNew acquired certain assets of former – and notorious – invention submission company IP&R and relaunched underneath the new name in 2007 (please visit our May 2009 article, What’s New about AbsolutelyNew?).
“To the best of my knowledge, we have been in compliance with all the AIPA requirements,” says AbsolutelyNew v . p . of product-development Bill Freund. “I was told that we’re not necessary to post our stats to our own Website (although some other manufacturers, like Davison, might be asked to do it from federal litigation against them). We share our stats within our first substantive communication with inventors.”
As of February 2009, AbsolutelyNew had 565 clients with contracts in progress, in accordance with a document AbsolutelyNew provided Inventors Digest last year. Of 1,638 client contracts completed, 80 clients, or 4.88 percent, obtained licensing agreements.
Five licensed clients “have already earned more in royalties compared to what they purchased marketing services,” the document adds. Again, doing the math, .3 percent had earned more in royalties than they paid in fees to AbsolutelyNew since early a year ago.
Freund says the organization has launched “a bunch of new items,” so the number of people who’ve made more money than they’ve paid in fees should “increase significantly.”
Quinn, the patent attorney who fought InventHelp and settled this current year, says InventHelp’s “numbers are better than I was thinking these were.”
“If they would double what they’re doing now, exactly how much better could you possibly realistically expect those to do given their take-all-comers business design? I’m not attempting to be an InventHelp apologist,” Quinn says. “You ought to recognize the last. But being really fair, there is also to recognize this current trend.
In college Susa blew out an elbow en path to a baseball career and later sought to become a fed – a “G” man, a drug enforcement agent or even a spook together with the FBI. But he says a federal hiring freeze forced him to detour. Following a brief stint with Pilsbury, he took at job as a compliance manager with Invention Submission Corp. Which was twenty years ago..
He climbed InventHelp’s ranks. Since assuming a co-leadership role as well as founder Berger, Susa has been on the pursuit to rehab the company’s reputation.
His initiatives included dissecting why potentially promising licensing deals died. In some instances they lacked prototypes. So Susa says he “brought within a guy who’s good at prototyping and virtual prototyping.” InventHelp also obtained services of the Chinese manufacturer that does small-inventory runs.
The company’s Internet site offers multiple cautionary statements regarding the odds against financial success inside the inventing industry. And Susa says when a salesperson misrepresents or otherwise overhypes what InventHelp can deliver, the business investigates. If it’s an initial-time offense, the salesperson may need to undergo more training. If it’s a repeat offense, the salesperson could be let go, Susa says.
“We’re learning and obtaining better as we go along,” Susa says, noting that InventHelp is on pace to eclipse 50 licenses this coming year, the most effective ever for the company. “I bring a simplistic view to things. Here’s where our company is. Here’s where we want to be. I’m about identifying the roadblocks and eliminating those roadblocks.”
His timing could not have been better. Greater usage of specifics of the invention industry, a recession containing compelled many to pursue inventing and entrepreneurship, downsizing in corporate research and development, and also the resulting requirement for companies to check outside their lairs for brand new ideas has helped give rise to a gadget renaissance of sorts.
InventHelp, seeking to exploit these confluent trends, spends tens of thousands of dollars per year on television and radio commercials. The company’s ads using the caveman logo are ubiquitous on ESPN and CNN.
Susa dismisses criticism that InventHelp lacks contacts and relationships with company buyers.
“It’s virtually impossible for independent inventors to cope with large companies,” Susa says. “We have 6,000 companies inside our data bank and all have signed non-disclosure agreements and also have told us what aspects of interest they would like to see.”
Susa says he personally involves himself in high-level negotiations with major companies that express fascination with licensing certain new releases from InventHelp clients.
Quinn, the patent attorney and prolific blogger who arguably has more reason to loathe InventHelp than most others, avers that after years of being viewed as the guys in black hats, InventHelp “seems prepared to join the polite community.”
He also contends that inventors or would-be inventors must do their homework.
“It’s amazing if you ask me what percentage of these inventors who claim to are already rooked don’t have basic Internet skills,” says Quinn, noting the Internet “is where every one of the good ‘buyer beware’ information and facts are.
“And they see something in the media or radio, and say, ‘I saw this on ESPN, which means this has to be legit,’ and that’s possibly the sum total of their due diligence.
“The industry,” Quinn adds, “has a population that expects a check to reach you without having done much, if any, work.”
Even plenty of work will not guarantee market success. Susa talks about the efforts his team put behind one inventor’s new form of toothbrush. Right after a promising start, a serious DRTV conducted a market test from the Midwest. The infomercial company given money for filming, the works. And also the product “bombed miserably,” Susa admits.
“That’s not just a success for all of us, but we did an extraordinary job getting this product on the market,” he says. “It underwent the identical process blockbuster products proceed through.”
At the end of the time, Susa wants the inventing community to think him as he says InventHelp wishes to commercialize products.