A New York class action lawsuit claims InventHelp bilked inventors into paying millions of dollars for invention promotion services that were not provided. The lawsuit accuses InventHelp of fraud, breach of contract, false advertising, violation of consumer protection laws, dealing in bad faith, unjust enrichment, and conspiracy.

The two lead Plaintiffs tell similar stories: naïve, aspiring inventors who were lured by slick television and internet advertisements, told that their ideas were unique and potentially lucrative, then offered services to commercialize their ideas. They claim they were strung along by a series of seemingly independent entities that were actually acting in concert, including promotion companies, a money lender, patent attorneys, licensing companies, manufacturers and distribution companies, all of whom took their money and failed to deliver the promised services.

The class-action lawsuit is demanding $36 million in punitive damages, plus restitution and monetary damages, compensatory damages, interest, costs, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and expenses.

Zanotti et al
v. Invention Submission Corp. dba InventHelp et al

Quoted from the class action lawsuit complaint:

Deceptive and Fraudulent Invention Promotion Scam Bilked Aspiring Inventors

“This class action arises out of a deceptive and fraudulent invention promotion scam that has bilked thousands of aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs into paying millions of dollars to [InventHelp et al] for invention promotion services that [InventHelp et al] do not, and never intend to, provide.”

(See Page 1)

Conspiracy Includes Web of Entities Acting in Concert

“[InventHelp et al]’s multi-tiered conspiracy preys upon aspiring inventors’ high hopes and dreams. It is cleverly constructed to avoid liability and monetary judgment by employing a web of seemingly independent entities – invention promotion companies, a private money lender, patent attorneys, licensing and distribution companies, and manufacturing companies – that act in concert to defraud Plaintiffs. After luring Class Plaintiffs in with slick television and internet advertising, [InventHelp et al] assure each and every consumer who inquires of their services that Plaintiffs’ ideas are unique, patentable, and carry terrific potential for immense profit.”

(See Page 2)

“The “enterprise” consists of the group of all Defendants informally associated together in fact, and functioning as a continuing unit, for the common purpose of fraudulently charging fees and costs for attempting to obtain a patent and to develop and market the various inventions. The existence of the “enterprise” is necessary in order for Defendants to carry out their common purpose, as they need the assistance of each other to convince the inventor that his/her idea is patentable and profitable, with full knowledge that the invention would not receive a utility patent and would not be profitable.”

(See Page 24)

Initial Fees Between $5,000 – $10,000, Then Disappearing and Dodging Calls As Soon As Money in Hand

“In exchange for initial fees ranging between $5,000 and $10,000, [InventHelp et al] represent that they will obtain patents and produce models, press releases, and infomercials, among other things, to promote Class Plaintiffs’ inventions.

Then because Class Plaintiffs often do not have at hand the thousands of dollars “necessary” to make their dreams come true, they are offered generous loans by Defendant private money lender Innovation Credit Corp.

[InventHelp et al] make off with Class Plaintiff’s money and do little to nothing to fulfill their end of the bargain, stringing Class Plaintiffs along with false promises and boilerplate “analyses” in order to extract more money from them for additional services (which they do not and never intend to provide), and then disappearing and dodging calls as soon as [InventHelp et al] have the money in hand.”

(See Page 3)

After Months or Years of Silence, Reappear in Guise of Manufacturing Companies Scamming More Money

“After months or years of silence, [InventHelp et al] reappear to Class Plaintiffs, sometimes in the guise of distribution, marketing or manufacturing companies, telling them that they’ve discovered Class Plaintiffs’ inventions, that they have purchase orders, licensing agreements, and/or retail distributors at the ready, and that they just need an additional $5,000 – $10,000 in order to make those final arrangements. After scamming more money from Plaintiffs, they disappear without a trace.”

(See Page 3)

InventHelp’s Enterprise as a Whole is Fraudulent and Poses the Threat of Continued Criminal Activity

“Fraud permeates all of the dealings and contracts between Class Plaintiffs and all Defendants herein, from start to finish. [InventHelp et al]’s enterprise as a whole is fraudulent.

[InventHelp et al]’s representatives employ high pressure tactics to push Class Plaintiffs to hand over tens of thousands of dollars and sign fraudulent contracts, falsely representing to Class Plaintiffs the actual content of those contracts, that Class Plaintiffs’ proposed inventions are one-of-a-kind, and that Class Plaintiffs likely stand to make “millions” or “billions” therefrom if they engage [InventHelp et al]’s services.

In truth and in fact, [InventHelp et al] do not (nor ever intend to) fulfill the bulk of the promises they make to Plaintiffs, instead making off with their money and leaving Plaintiffs high and dry.”

(See Page 4)

“Moreover, the “enterprise” is a continuing operation and poses the threat of continued criminal activity, preying upon unsuspecting victims. [InventHelp et al]’s websites and television commercials continue to tout their invention promotion services to lure potential inventors to enter into contracts with [InventHelp et al] for fraudulent invention promotion services.”

(See Page 25)

Plaintiff Julie Zanotti’s Story:
“Liqui Comb” Idea

According to the class action complaint Julie Zanotti, a hair stylist, believed she had created a new invention she called the Liqui Comb: a hollow comb that would evenly distribute styling products on hair through the comb’s teeth.

InventHelp Referral to Invents Company

She contacted InventHelp after seeing their caveman television advertising, and like “all customers who contact InventHelp [was] rerouted by InventHelp to ‘Invents Company.’” “She was assured by an Invents representative that her idea was not only viable, but that it was original and presented an excellent opportunity for profit.” In actuality, her comb idea was not original and several companies already sold a similar product. Invents offered to partner with her for $7,950.

Offered Predatory Loan

When she said she could not afford the fee, the Invents representative conveniently had a loan application from Innovations Credit Corp ready. She claims the Invents representative told her the loan was interest-free, but contrary to that explicit verbal assurance, the loan carried an annual interest rate of 18 percent.

Agreement with Invents Company, But Services Never Provided

In order to commercialize her invention, Invents agreed to “prepare and send media press releases, design and produce a personalized product web page, produce a thirty (30) second video infomercial, purchase four (4) airtime spots for the infomercial in major markets, contact “targeted” companies for manufacture and distribution of the invention, provide twenty-four (24) hour standby operators to field any calls which may be received regarding [the] invention.” But these promised services were never provided.

Referral for Patent Work, Despite Not-Patentable Idea

Invents then referred her to a Florida attorney to obtain a utility patent for her invention. Despite being aware that her idea was not patentable because it was not unique and several companies already made and sold similar products, the attorney agreed to represent her for $4,490. The attorney “also had first-hand knowledge of hundreds of his customers, referred by Invents and/or InventHelp, that did not receive utility patents and complained that Invents and/or InventHelp is a fraud.

Agreement for Licensing and Manufacturing, Again Services Never Provided

After a while, Ms. Zanotti was contacted by Zambro Manufacturing, offering her a licensing and manufacturing agreement. She agreed to pay them $3,000, and her card was charged by a company called Global Express Manufacturing. “Zambro Manufacturing and Global Express Manufacturing are sham companies.” Again, the promised services were never provided.

Plaintiff Ronese Brooks’ Story:
“Removable Temples” Eyeglasses Idea

Ronese Brooks has a similar story about her invention: eyeglasses with detachable and adjustable arms she called “Removable Temples.”

InventHelp Referral to Invents Company

Ms. Brooks contacted InventHelp after seeing their television ads promising to help inventors protect, develop and market inventors’ ideas. She met with an Invents Company representative, who said she would have to pay an initial fee of $795 to get started.

“Feasibility Study” Promises Huge Profits

After explaining that she could not afford the payment and was on disability from her job, the Invents representative told her “that Invents was extremely interested in her invention. He represented to her that her idea was worth “billions” because the eyewear industry is so large.

The representative then left the room to conduct an initial “feasibility study.” “When he returned to the meeting, he told Ms. Brooks that her Removable Temples received a 93% score, which meant that it was unique, it would be relatively easy to produce, and would realize huge profits. He claimed that in all the “many years” he had worked with Invents, only one other product had ever received a “feasibility score” over 90%.

Patent Search Incorrectly Claims Idea is Unique

Ms. Brooks paid $595 for an initial patent search and project summary, and Invents told her the patent search showed no similar patents and that Invents wanted to partner with her. In actuality, her idea was not original and several companies already sold products similar to her Removable Temples idea.

Agreement with Invents Company, But Services Never Provided

Invents offered to partner with her for $10,000. When she said she could not afford $10,000 and needed time to review the agreement with an attorney, she was told she would lose a $1,050 discount if she showed the contract to an attorney.

She paid $8,950 and signed an agreement with Invents Company for them to “prepare and send media press releases, design and produce a personalized product web page, produce a thirty (30) second video infomercial, purchase four (4) airtime spots for the infomercial in major markets, contact “targeted” companies for manufacture and distribution of the invention.” The work she paid for was not done.

Referral for Patent Work, Despite Not-Patentable Idea

Then she was referred to an Arizona patent consulting company, and she paid $2,800 for a utility patent, even though the attorney knew her invention was not patentable, because similar products were already on the market. The attorney “also had first-hand knowledge of hundreds of customers referred by Invents and/or InventHelp that did not receive utility patents and complained that Invents and/or InventHelp is a fraud.

Licensing and Manufacturing Offer Raises Suspicions

For months, Invents failed to return all her phone calls, and then Global Express Manufacturing offered to manufacture her invention for $5,000. They told her they had already engaged another company, “Smith Lilly Health & Beauty Manufacturing Supply” to license and market her invention.

Ms. Brooks became suspicious and ultimately sent an email to Global Express Manufacturing and Invents stating her belief that the companies were engaging in fraudulent business activities. “To date, Ms. Brooks has handed over approximately $12,000 to [InventHelp et al] for fraudulent services that they have not provided.

More info on class action lawsuits against InventHelp at:
InventHelp Sued in Multiple Class Action Lawsuits

How to Protect Yourself from Invention Promotion Scams

Be Involved in the Process

As a new inventor or busy small business owner, the process of patenting and commercializing your invention can feel overwhelming, which makes the idea of paying someone else to handle everything for you very appealing.

Ultimately, this is your idea, and you cannot delegate your responsibility to make it succeed – you must become an Entrepreneur to bring your invention to market.

As a new Entrepreneur, you will need expert advice to help you – you must assemble a team of professionals. Using your vision, you lead the team, and the experts on your team give you the information you need to decisively take action steps, bringing your idea From Your Mind to the Marketplace®.

Beware Promises of Profits

No one can guarantee that you will make money from your invention. But you can improve your chances for success by being involved, getting professional advice and information along the way, and persisting in the face of obstacles until success is achieved.

Beware Patent Searches that Find Nothing

Even if your invention is unique and patentable, a good Patent Search should still find the prior art that is most similar to your invention. This is necessary for writing the patent application, so we can claim your invention as broadly as possible, while not stepping on the toes of any related prior art.

Call for a Free Consultation to Guide your Next Action Steps

Russ Weinzimmer & Associates, PC is an experienced patent law firm serving clients nationwide. We have the knowledge to represent individual inventors and entrepreneurs, as well as startups. We understand what adds value to a business, and we put that knowledge to work for our clients.

Call for your Free Phone Consultation with Patent Attorney Russ Weinzimmer: (800) 621-3654.

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