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Best Invention and Patent Services

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A patent gives property rights to the inventor of a product. Read our guide to research the best invention and patent service company for you. The right patent service helps you decide if your idea is marketable and gets you on track to secure the patent or trademark you need. We explain how to carefully screen any patent or invention company before sending money or signing a contract.

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What to look for in an invention or patent service

What technical experience does the service offer?

Some invention and patent services specialize in particular product types, industries or services. Be sure that you research the company and any attorneys or other service providers that it partners with to verify that it is experienced and qualified enough to meet your needs.

  • Field of experience: Look for patent services that work with attorneys who have experience in the exact field of your invention. It is important to know that they have experience developing and marketing products that are similar to yours.
  • Former clients: Find out whether the service has worked with clients in your field, and ask for a list of successful former clients to serve as references. Some companies will say that this information is confidential or legally protected, but this is a red flag that might indicate the company does not have a successful track record.
  • Attorney characteristics: All attorneys who work with patent service companies must have some kind of technical experience to pass the bar exam, but some have more specialized experience than others. Look for a company that works closely with a patent or trademark attorney who has a clear record of success.

How much does the service cost?

Patent costs vary from company to company, but it’s a good idea to try to get an accurate estimate of the costs up front. Companies that will not provide a fee schedule up front are more likely to pile on unexpected charges throughout the process.

  • Itemized charges: Depending on what you are using the service for, you may be charged a fee to have your idea assessed, research patents in related industries, file for a temporary patent, file for a permanent patent, prototype your product, develop marketing materials and more. You might also be charged for things like securing your contract with the company or paying lawyer or court fees. All of these fees can add up fast; ask for a complete list of all of the charges associated with the service before signing anything or submitting your idea.
  • Billing: Does the service bill by the hour or have a standard fee for filing? Find out exactly what you are billed for and when.
  • Price cap: Some patent services set a price cap, which can ensure you don’t get any big surprises when the bill comes.
  • Low prices: Most patent services charge rates that are within a 20 percent range of each other. Extremely low rates can be a sign of problems with a service.

How big is the company?

Companies of all sizes can file successful patents. But depending on the type of your invention, you might prefer to work with a large patent services company vs. a small company or vice-versa.

  • Nature of invention: Big companies will likely spend less time writing a patent, but will have more people review it. On the other hand, small companies will often offer more personal attention.
  • Guidance: Smaller companies are likely to offer more guidance. But if you already understand the patent process for inventions, you might be better off with a large company that offers more resources.
  • Client load: Find out how many clients the firm is working with currently. Most qualified services should be working with at least one or two new clients every few weeks; major firms secure around 5–10 patents each month.

What is the company's success rate?

One of the best ways to evaluate a patent service is to investigate the company’s success rate. It’s not always easy to find this information, but it is a valuable measure of a company’s worth.

  • Number of patents: Ask the company for names and patent numbers for all the patents they have helped inventors secure in the last several months. A good company should at least have 2-4 secured patents a month, preferably more.
  • Success rate: Ask your contact at the company what percentage of their clients are able to secure a patent. This can help you get a feel for how likely it is that your idea will be patented.  Also, ask what percent of the products they have marketed have seen a significant return on investment.
  • Major retailers: Ask for a list of clients’ products that have been picked up by major retailers. Many companies will list these on their website, but be sure to ask what percent of the clients they represent have seen products picked up by major retailers.

Does the company work with attorneys?

To patent an invention, you have to file legal paperwork. Some patent and invention service companies do not secure patents, leaving you to find an attorney on your own, which will add to your expense.

  • Attorneys on staff: The most convenient type of invention service company will have attorneys on staff who specialize in patent law. These attorneys can complete and file all your paperwork for you.
  • Partner attorneys: Some patent service companies work with certain attorneys as their partners and share their profits with the attorney. Be sure that any relevant attorney fees are included in your quote.
  • No attorney: Companies that do not have an attorney on staff or do not outsource work to attorney partners will not be able to help you secure a patent. They may be able to help you learn about the process and conduct market research to see if your idea is actionable, but you will have to secure a patent on your own.

Types of invention and patent services

Full-service company

Full-service patent companies offer marketability testing, patent searches, legal patenting services, marketing to retailers and more. They work with inventors from idea conception through retail sales.

Individual service company

Some companies specialize in one or two aspects of the invention and patent process. For instance, a company may help with prototyping or marketability research.

Referral service

There are many services that connect inventors with patent service companies for a fee. These may be helpful if you need extra guidance.

When to use an invention or patent service

When you have invented a product

Anyone who invents a new, non-obvious and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter or improvement of any of these items can apply for a patent.

When you have invented a design

Anyone who invents an ornamental design that is nonfunctional, new and non-obvious can apply for a patent.

When you have produced plants

Anyone who successfully produces a new plant variety can apply for a patent.

When you have an idea but need help developing a prototype

Patent laws do not require that you have a prototype of your idea in order to file for a patent, but you must be able to describe it or diagram it well enough that others could make and use it.

Invention and patent services FAQ

Can you sell an idea to a company without a patent?

Yes, but most companies won’t buy an idea or invention that doesn’t have at least some form of legal protection. If you’re selling an idea for an invention, two simpler ways to protect your intellectual property include:

  • Having the company sign a nondisclosure agreement, which stops it from using your idea without your approval
  • Filing a patent application, which at least establishes that you had the idea first

Unfortunately, many companies won’t sign nondisclosure agreements, so going through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is still your best bet.

What is a poor man's patent?

A poor man’s patent involves mailing a description of your invention to yourself to establish when you had the idea. Unfortunately, this is an invalid method of proving ownership because the paper trail is weak and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office now works on a first-inventor-to-file system. This means that the first person to file a patent for an invention is legally its inventor, even if someone else can prove they had the idea first.

How much does it cost to patent an idea?

Patenting a simple idea usually costs $5,000 - $7,000, but complicated inventions cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. These costs primarily come from two different sources:

  • Patent fees you pay to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — usually a few hundred dollars
  • Legal fees you pay a patent lawyer for their help researching and preparing your patent application — usually $200 - $500 per hour

There are also ongoing costs for revising, maintaining and enforcing your patent that vary from case to case.

What to do if you have an idea for an invention?

If you have an idea for an invention, contact a patent and invention service company. Patent attorneys help:

  1. Document your work. You should keep extensive notes as you work on your design and, if possible, have a trusted witness sign off on them. A patent service can tell you whether you have enough documentation.
  2. Do a preliminary patent search. Even if you had your idea out of the blue, you still need to make sure no one else has patented or submitted designs for something similar.
  3. Finalize your design. You can’t change your patent once it’s filed, so it’s important to iron out your invention now. Some patent services will even help you build a working prototype.
  4. File a patent application. Patent lawyers help clients fill out and submit their applications so that they have the highest possible chance of success.
Can you sell an idea for an invention?

Yes, but you need to protect your intellectual property if you want to make any money off it. Otherwise, anyone that hears the idea can steal it, and even honest buyers don’t want to invest in an idea that competitors might steal from them. Patents are the best way for inventors to claim ownership of their ideas.

Once you have your idea patented, you can either sell your rights to the patent or license its use for profit.

How do you invent something?

All inventors work differently, but many share similar steps in their processes:

  1. Pay attention to the world around you.
  2. Identify a need.
  3. Do market research.
  4. Develop a solution.
  5. Patent it.
  6. Sell your invention.

Invention and patent service companies help with the latter half of this process, but the initial idea is up to you.

How do I make a prototype of my idea?

It depends on what your idea is. Fabricators, 3D printers, machine shops and printers can all help bring your idea to life, but you need to make sure your intellectual property is secure before you go showing it to strangers.

Many invention and patent service companies help with this stage, as well. It’s often worth building a prototype to be sure your invention functions properly before you submit your patent application.

What inventions can be patented?

The government separates patentable subject matter into four categories— processes, machines, manufactures and compositions of matter. These categories are incredibly broad by design. Functional examples of patented inventions include:

  • New plant varieties
  • New chemical formulas and compositions
  • Tools
  • Computer software
  • Gadgets
  • Business methods
How much does it cost to bring a new product to market?

Most inventors can’t afford the thousands, if not millions, of dollars it costs to bring their own products to market. However, once you have a patent, you can get it to market by shopping around for investors, selling your patent or licensing its use to manufacturers.

The cost of bringing a product to market depends on:

  • What the product is
  • How much you spend on design and development
  • How much you spend on prototypes
  • How much it costs to manufacture
  • Whether you need any certifications
  • How large you want your initial run to be
Can I get a patent for free?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refers inventors who can’t afford their own patent lawyers to two programs that perform free patent application preparation, filing and prosecution services:

  • The Patent Pro Bono Program matches applicants with volunteer patent lawyers.
  • The Law School Clinic Certification Program provides inventors with services from law students working under the supervision of a registered patent practitioner.

Inventors submitting their own applications can also petition to have their fees waived.

Are patents worth it?

A patent is worth as much as the idea it protects. If your invention has the potential to make lots of money, a patent is absolutely worth it. However, if your idea has limited commercial viability, the money you spend getting a patent might go to waste.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Invention and patent service author reviews


    Established in 1984, InventHelp assists inventors with submitting their inventions and product ideas to the industry. They help inventors package their ideas, provide a patent referral and then submit the ideas to companies who are looking for new products. Their patent referrals have resulted in over 9,000 patents.

    • INPEX trade show: Every summer, InventHelp hosts The Invention & New Product Exposition, or INPEX, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. INPEX is the largest invention trade show in the country and it provides inventors a venue to exhibit their inventions and network with companies who are interested in licensing, manufacturing or marketing new products.
    • Request free information: InventHelp sends free information about their services to interested inventors. Simply submit your name and email address to have free information sent to you.
    • 3D prototype modeling package: Inventors who have new product ideas can benefit from InventHelp’s 3D prototype modeling package. This gives you a three-dimensional model of your invention that you can use to print out a prototype. Your printed model will not be functional, but it will give you an accurate representation of what you can expect from your current invention design.
    • Find your local sales office: InventHelp has over 60 offices across the United States, Canada, Germany, Korea, the United Kingdom and Australia. Find your nearest location to set up an appointment to discuss your invention.
    • Patent information: InventHelp does not offer legal advice on patents and encourages their clients to seek legal advice for any patent-related questions. They do have a wealth of resources on patents for inventors to read so they can understand the basics of patents and what they need to do to patent their invention.
    Read 385 Reviews

    Davison is a leading invention services company that has been in business for almost 30 years. Davison's team of over 250 employees works with inventors who don't yet have a fully developed idea. Products developed by Davison have sold in over 1,000 stores, and they secure an average of seven store placements for new products every month.

    • Pre-patent help: Davison works with clients to develop an idea fully before seeking a patent. You can submit an idea online and receive feedback about what steps you should take next.
    • Track record: They have a proven track record of getting products into stores. Their clients' products have been sold in The Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware, Toys R Us, Target, Petsmart, Amazon.com and more.
    • Confidential: Davison works hard to protect the confidentiality of your idea, and signs an agreement with clients prior to accepting any new product ideas stating that they will not sell or develop their clients' ideas without written consent.
    • Full service company: Davison's product development services include data and patent research, product design and development, prototyping and sample design and corporation targeting.
    • Free information: You can access several resources on Davison's website to help you develop your idea, and you can also download a free Davison Inventing Method Information Guide.
    Read 2556 Reviews
    For Sale by Inventor

    For Sale by Inventor helps inventors, new and established, get on the fast-track to launching their products. They work with both inventors wanting to market their inventions and companies looking for the right inventions to sponsor for sale. With a fully licensed legal team and an extensive combined background in marketing and sales, For Sale by Inventor delivers excellent service to both sides of the coin.

    • New inventor guidance: From start to finish, even those with no background in marketing, sales, or legal principles can be guided to product launch in record time.
    • Legal advice: Their fully licensed legal time holds an impressive combined background and can help new inventors dodge the rough legal expectations that can come alongside new products.
    • Inventions accessible by businesses: Successful inventions will be placed on the website, which is easily accessed by companies and other entities for investment and sponsorship.
    • Guides companies to the right products: New companies simply have to enter in the budget and details of products they are looking for and For Sale by Inventor will do the leg work of finding the right products for them.
    • Premium marketing packages: The offered marketing packages are well worth the money spent, thanks to the combined knowledge of their marketing and sales team.
    Read 510 Reviews
    Mars Rising Network

    Mars Rising Network offers inventors everything they need to turn their idea into reality, including patent services, assistance with invention design, licensing services, market promotion, prototyping and manufacturing. They also offer specialty services, including 3D animation video production, 3D design and prototyping and web/SEO services to help inventors and investors get a feel for how their product will look and function. Invention submission is easy, free and confidential.

    Read 84 Reviews

    InventionHome is an invention and product marketing company that helps inventors and entrepreneurs through the invention and patent process. Headquartered in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, InventionHome's services are ideal for inventors who want to avoid a “buy before you try” service or people who are looking to have marketing assistance with their invention.

    • Low prices: InventionHome offers reasonable and fair prices and don’t charge up front.
    • Marketing: They offer extensive marketing help and have a huge network of companies looking for new inventions.
    • No lockdown on invention: InventionHome does not lock down your invention idea, so if you market it elsewhere before they are able to license it for you, you do not have to pay them.
    • Patenting support: InventionHome can file a provisional patent application on your behalf, and then refer you to independent attorneys to help you file a patent.
    • Successful track record: InventionHome has helped inventors market their products in retailers like Walmart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, Walgreens, HSN and more.
    Read 110 Reviews
    Docie Invention & Patent Marketing

    Founded in 1976, Docie is one of the oldest and most experienced patent service providers. Docie was founded by Ronald Louis Docie, Sr., the author of The Inventor’s Bible. Docie's services are ideal for first time inventors who are cautious about spending money on patent services and inventors looking for a company with a history of success.

    • Free evaluation: Docie will evaluate your invention or idea for free to see if it’s worth pursuing. If they decide to sign you on as a client, they will offer you a list of services to choose from.
    • Experience: Docie's 40 year history in the invention services industry gives them a lot of experience and a reliable track record. They have a solid history and a great success rate.
    • Marketing services: Docie conducts market investigation to see whether there are other products like yours on the market and conduct a demographic analysis.
    • The Inventor's Bible: Docie was founded by Ron L. Docie, Sr., the author of The Inventor's Bible. This book walks readers through the invention process, with information on protecting your idea, patenting, selecting a manufacturer and more.

    Idea4Invention.com is a patent service company that specializes in connecting inventors with patent companies to help them develop and patent their ideas. It offers itself as a “one-stop site” to help inventors connect with patent companies, prototype companies, marketing experts and more. Idea4Invention.com is best for people who need assistance with the entire process of patenting their inventions.

    • Partner companies: Idea4Invention.com connects users with their partner companies, including Davison, Invents Company, Lonestar Patent Services and World Patent Marketing.
    • Prototypes: This company can help you find a prototype company to build a model of your idea, which may make it easier to market.
    • Simple process: Simply fill out an information request form at Idea4Invention.com indicating what type of invention you've created, whether or not you have a patent and prototype, and your contact information and you will receive a list of companies that may be able to help you with your idea.
    • Website information: Ideas4Invention.com features informative articles, invention tips, success stories and more.

    InventionIdeas.org is a patent and invention services referral company. It works with several invention companies to connect inventors with service providers that may be able to help them bring their ideas to fruition.

    • Free invention kit: Those who want information on aspects of inventing such as whether an idea is patentable, how to conduct a patent search and how to apply for a patent can download the free Invention Kit. Simply provide your contact information and a bit of background information on your invention idea to download the kit.
    • Informative website: InventionIdeas.org provides articles on many aspects of invention and patenting, and can be helpful for new inventors to learn more about the process.
    • Partners with invention companies: InventionIdeas.org partners with several invention companies including Idea Design Studio, Inventionland and Invents Company. They will refer you to a company that best fits your needs.
    Innovative Licensing

    Innovative Licensing & Promotion Inc. is an Alberta, Canada-based patent agency. Founded in 1999, this company has almost 20 years of experience helping inventors navigate the patent process and licensing.

    Read more about Innovative Licensing

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