Complaint: July 2012 Hunt
COMPLAINT REGARDING INVENTION PROMOTER
DATE OF CORRESPONDENCE: February 28th, 2012
Name of the Invention Promotion Company: Absolutely New Inc.
Invention Promoter’s Address: 650 Townsend Street, Ste 475, San Francisco, CA 94103
Complainant’s Name: Sanja Hunt
Complainant’s Address: 2001 St. Bridget’s Rd. NE, Solon, IA 52333
Customer’s Name: Sanja Hunt
WHAT IS YOUR COMPLAINT?
Name of mass media invention promoter advertised in: Internet web site
Invention promotion service offered to be performed: Prepare a Market Research documents, prepare a marketing package, personally contact prospective buyers in order to secure a license or sale agreement, present my invention at trade shows.
Explanation of complaint between customer and invention promoter:
In November 2010 I started searching for and invention company that would help me market my invention. I did an extensive research on the internet and Absolutely New surfaced as the most promising company to help me in this endeavor. Since this was my first attempt at marketing a product I really wanted someone reputable and someone who knew the industry and could recommend the best possible avenues to take.
My first contact was with XXX, a women from Wisconsin, the Midwest like myself, who assured me that I had made the right decision. She told me how great Absolutely New is, how they go to trade shows, how they manufacture their own products. I expressed to her that I was apprehensive and that I would feel a lot better if I knew some of the inventors that Absolutely New helped. I offered to give them my phone number so if they close to call mw it would be on their own initiative and I would not impose on them. She declined, saying that it was company policy not to reveal any such things.
Still I felt that with a “team consultation”, Marketing Package, Market Research, and ANI expertise I would be safe to go with them.
My Marketing Package arrived and it was a single sheet of paper, a sketch of my product, a few copies of similar products on file with patent office, the potential for the sale of my product. No Plan of action, no mention of trade shows. I paid $600.00 for this portion of Absolutely News effort.
After that there was a contract signed on January 6, 2011. I thought that then we would have a plan of action on how the product was to be marketed. My contract with Absolutely New was $14,920.00 which I thought was reasonable if they were going to go to trade shows on my behalf and actively market my product. I asked XXX if there was anything else that I had to do and she said that I has done everything and to just wait.
Three months later my first quarterly report arrived. There were a total of 16 contacts made. No dates, no names, no manner of contact, no rejection letters, no indication who made the contacts. Most of the comments made by an unnamed person at Absolutely New were “not interested”, have their internal design team, do not take ideas from the outside.
After several attempts to contact XXX, the marketing manager at the time, I finally called XXX and expressed my disappointment. XXX apparently talked with XXX who finally committed to call me but then did not do it. I again attempted to call XXX and after some effort was finally able to speak with her.
I expressed to XXX that the type of contacts where parties not at all interested are worthless and that any sales organization worth their salt would never consider firms that are not interested in the outside input a viable contact, especially when Absolutely New assured me that they knew these entities. So why did they call people that had no interest in working with inventors? I wanted details about these calls but was offered none.
My second quarterly report was almost a carbon copy of the first and Absolutely New responded in the same manner. I again called XXX and she told me that they will continue marketing my product and that those results will be available to me on line. I looked, but there is nothing on line to see regarding my product.
I was then informed that XXX has been assigned to a new position and that XXX has taken her place. I addressed my concerns to him but he responded that my contract with Absolutely new was over so there would be no further action on their part unless I wished to renew which meant to me that I had to pay again.
It was at that point that I realized that I needed to contact a patent attorney.
My attorney wrote a letter to ANI counsel XXX on January 17, 2012 and requested documentation of “good will efforts” as specified in paragraph 8 of the Marketing Agreement. We asked for response by February 1, 2012. Per paragraph 16 of the marketing agreement I should have been provided with information requested within 7 days of receipt of said request which was mailed to the offices of Absolutely New and XXX. XXX did not bother to respond to that letter. He made one phone call to my attorney in the second week of February, long after the 7 days have expired and since then has not responded or made himself available even though my attorney left at least 3 messages at XXX office.
In addition my attorney discovered that Absolutely New violated 35 U.S.C. 297 improper and deceptive invention promotion when they did not provide me with information stated in the “ACT”. This section is part of the American Inventors Protection act and provides that an invention promoter has to provide a number of pieces of information to the new client BEFORE entering into a contract with that inventor. I had my “Invention Concept Research Agreement” in November 2010 and did not enter into a contract till January 2011. Absolutely New is apparently above the law so the “ACT” is simply ignored.
I have also discovered that the company has violated section 22381 of the California Business & Professions Code which states that certain information has to be provided to an inventor upon first contact. Since I made the first contact Absolutely New should have acted on their first response to me and provided me with the information required by law. They failed to do that also.
The lack of response, the disregard for the law, the practice of ignoring attempted contacts and complete lack of proof of “good faith efforts” is what prompted me to write to you and inform you so that other people will not get scammed by this company. XXX, XXX, XXX and XXX as well as the entire staff of Absolutely New should be ashamed to live of hopes of inventors. If Absolutely New is making money selling pet products they should just stick to what they know and be honest in their business instead of representing themselves as a legitimate company for other products.
It is a real shame that this company is allowed to exist and that it is funded by a private venture firm. I wonder if they know of this. I will not name them now but when I write to them they will surely know to look at this complaint. Shame, shame, shame to the charlatans in our society.
I hope other inventors see this. I will make myself available to people that are considering hiring this company and forewarn them not to spend their hard earned money on empty promises of its scrupulous employees.
Signed: /s/Sanja Hunt Date: February 28, 2012
XXX – indicate names that have been redacted by the USPTO