Anyone that knows me knows I am not a fan of invention promotion companies (and that is putting it diplomatically). You know the companies that advertise on late night TV and the secondary channels, such as the Invention Submission Corporation and Invent Tech to name two. First, before I write anymore perhaps I should provide a disclaimer: everything I say in this entry is my opinion. In general, these companies tend to operate within the law if just barely. As the law changes to regulate them, they just modify their practices enough to comply. Here is my real problem with these companies: they do not provide good value for what they charge. Anyhow, this entry isn’t about your run of the mill invention promoters, but a new kid on the block, SOLA
Who is SOLA (an acronym for Sale Of Licensing Agreements). They appear to be a Texas based company that offers to help patent holders license their patented inventions to industry. And here is the kicker, they offer to do it for no cost to the patent holder, they just receive a percentage of any royalties received pursuant to the invention. I first became these guys when a prospective client came into my office with their materials and wanted to know if it was safe to deal with them. He couldn’t see the hook. But since SOLA was repeatedly calling him and enticing him to go forward with them, I figured there had to be a hook. The thing that really opened my eyes was the fact that in their personal letter to my client, they referred to his invention improperly: I believe they called his paint can cover a paint can label. All of a sudden I was sure these guys were in the same class as other invention promotion companies, but I needed to know the hook.
I read the materials and there it was: in order for SOLA to spend UPTO $160,000 of their money promoting a patented invention, they require the patent holder to prepare a list of companies that might be interested in licensing the patent. And it just isn’t a list of company names, but their addresses, the person in charge of R&D and his/her contact information, the company’s R&D budget, as well as a bunch of other stuff. Oh yeah, they requested the list be prepared by a Masters or Phd in marketing or business administration. How many of us have one of those degrees just lying around? Well, SOLA indicates in their materials that they have people they can refer you to that will prepare the list. That was it: the hook, the way they really make their money. The have an affiliated company that charges you to prepare the list. Once the list is done they spend some time contacting these potential companies (at least one would figure they do) and they do spend UPTO $160,000, but I suspect the real amount spent is a couple of hundred times less than the maximum.
Anyhow, a new prospective client came in the other day with SOLA letters in hand. They requested he send them a check for about $1300 made out not to SOLA but to Federated Documents Services, I presume for that company to prepare the list. For some reason, I suspect that SOLA gets a cut of the $1300 and that more money will be requested in the future but I don’t actually know this.
Based on this new information, I want searching for SOLA on the web, and what I found was a company that is selling franchises for somewhere around $73,000. Apparently, qualified franchisees will earn extremely high incomes rather quickly. In their FAQ section they state the franchise will become profitable in “your very first month
”. WAIT, WAIT, WAIT. License Agreements take months to negotiate if not a year or more! How can they franchise be profitable in the FIRST MONTH unless they are getting money from the patent holder. BUT WAIT, SOLA’s website states, “SOLA takes all the risks and invests its time and money in marketing your product.”
This just does’t add up does it?
Anyway, be forewarned: if you have a patent and you are an individual inventor, you might receive an email or letter from SOLA, and although they may tell you they are helping you out a no cost to you and that they will bear the risk, I just don’t buy it.
Oh yeah, if you want to buy a franchise that “will quickly yield extremely high personal income under all market conditions
”, then check out this site: http://solafranchise.com/
. And if you have any information about this interesting new entry in the world of invention promotion, let me know.
Labels: inventing, patents