Can you give me some information on companies that can help with my invention?

Invention development companies are private and public research companies that help inventors develop, patent, and promote their ideas so they can be commercially licensed or sold. While many of these organizations are legitimate, some are not. Here are seven tips to help you make smart invention development decisions:

Learn About the Patent Process.
When you understand the basics of how to get a patent, you will know when invention marketers are making promises they, or the patent system, can't deliver.

Do Your Homework.

Check the organization's references, ask for credentials, and then check them.

Be Realistic.
Not every invention is patentable. Be wary of any developer willing to promote virtually any invention.

Know Where Your Money Is Going.
Ask the organization how your money will be spent. Be on guard against large up-front fees.

Protect Your Rights.

DO NOT disclose your invention to a developer over the phone before first signing a confidentiality agreement. You could forfeit valuable patent rights.

Track Your Invention's Progress.
Once you decide to use an invention development organization, deal directly with the agent or patent attorney who will be handling your patent application.

Don't Get Discouraged!

The patent process can be very complicated, so you will probably need professional help. There are many good patent agents and attorneys that can help you. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office maintains a nationwide register of attorneys and agents who meet our legal, scientific and technical requirements. For information on registered patent attorney and agents, you may visit the USPTO's Office of Enrollment and Discipline Web site at

Protests by a member of the public against pending applications will be referred to the examiner having charge of the subject matter involved. A protest specifically identifying the application to which the protest is directed will be entered in the application file if: (1) The protest is submitted prior to the publication of the application or the mailing of a notice of allowance under rule 1.311, whichever occurs first; and (2) The protest is either served upon the applicant in accordance with rule 1.248, or filed with the Office in duplicate in the event service is not possible.  For more detailed information on protesting a patent, you may visit our Web site at for the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) Chapter 1900.

USPTO FAQ - Questions and Answers (14AUG2003)