Home Courts Would-be inventors accuse InventHelp of fraud, seek $36M

Would-be inventors accuse InventHelp of fraud, seek $36M

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You’ve probably seen the cartoon caveman about to chisel a stone wheel on InventHelp’s late night TV advertisements.

Julie Zanotti of Putnam Valley and Ronese Brooks of Yonkers saw the ads and were inspired to submit their invention ideas. But now the would-be inventors say it was they who were chiseled.

InventHelp
The company’s logo.

They claim that InventHelp bilked them and many others into paying millions of dollars for invention promotion services that were not provided. They are demanding $36 million in damages in a class-action lawsuit filed on Jan. 25 in Westchester Supreme Court. They are being represented by Julie Pecherski Plitt of Oxman Law Group in White Plains.

InventHelp did not respond to a request for comment.

The Pittsburgh company’s website promotes itself as the “honest invention company.”

“Our approach is straightforward and does not mislead or misinform,” the company states. “This is what separates us from unscrupulous, double-talking organizations who profess to ‘help’ inventors.”

The women describe themselves as naïve, aspiring inventors who were lured by slick TV and internet advertisements, assured that their ideas were unique, told that their inventions were potentially lucrative and offered the means to making their ideas real.

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.

The web of companies “created the impression that they have successfully helped other inventors, and thus that they are reliable and reputable,” the complaint states. “In truth and in fact, defendants fail to fulfill almost every promise they make to consumers.”

Zanotti, a hair stylist, came up with an idea she called the Liqui Comb, where a styling solution could be put in a hollow chamber and distributed evenly on hair through the comb’s teeth.

She saw the caveman spots on TV in 2014, called InventHelp and was referred to the Invents Co. affiliate in Iselin, New Jersey.  She claims she was told that her idea was novel and had an excellent opportunity for profit and that Invents would partner with her for $7,950.

When she said she could not afford the fee, she was referred to Innovation Credit Corp. in Manhattan. She claims Invents told her she could get an interest-free loan, but the loan she got carried an annual interest rate of 18 percent.

Zanotti alleges that Invents agreed to “commercialize” her concept with press releases, a web page, infomercial, airtime in major markets and contacts with manufacturers; but the services were not provided.

She was referred to a Florida attorney who charged $4,490 to obtain a patent. But her idea could not be patented, she said, because several companies already make and sell similar products.

Then Invents told her that Zambro Manufacturing in Milwaukee was interested in the Liqui Comb. She signed a manufacturing and licensing agreement and agreed to a $2,000 down payment that was charged to her credit card by Global Express Manufacturing of Milwaukee.

Zambro and Global, she alleges, are sham companies.

Ronese Brooks tells a similar story about her concept of eyeglasses with detachable and adjustable arms.

She met with an Invents representative in the Manhattan office in 2016. She claims she was told that her idea was worth “billions.” The representative left the room to conduct a “feasibility study.” When he returned, he allegedly said her invention had scored 93 percent because it was unique, easy to produce and would realize huge profits. In all his years with Invents, he allegedly said, only one other product had received a feasibility score greater than 90 percent.

Brooks said she was overjoyed. She paid $595 for an initial patent search and project summary, and Invents, she said, told her there were no similar patents.

Invents offered to do business with her for $10,000. She asked for time to review the agreement with an attorney, she claims, but the representative told her she would lose a $1,050 discount for doing so. She signed and paid $8,950 for promotion and marketing services.

She claims the work was not done.

Then she was referred to an Arizona patent consulting company. But her invention was not patentable, she discovered, because similar products were already on the market.

For months, Brooks said, Invents did not respond to her phone calls. Then Global Express offered to manufacture her invention for $5,000.

Brooks had become suspicious and declined the offer. In all, she paid $12,000 for services that she claims were not provided.

InventHelp claims to be the largest invention submission company in the country and perhaps in the world.

It is part of the Invention Submission Corp. and shares the same address in Pittsburgh with Technosystems Service Corp. Technosystems Consolidated Corp. and Western Invention Submission Corp. Robert J. Susa is president of the companies. The lawsuit also names Invents, Innovation Credit, three purported manufacturing companies and two patent attorney firms.

The women accuse the defendants of fraud, breach of contract, false advertising, violation of consumer protection laws, dealing in bad faith, unjust enrichment and conspiracy. The patent attorney and patent consultant are accused of breach of fiduciary duty.

Invention firms are required by federal law to disclose their success rates.

From 2015 to 2017, InventHelp states on its website, 6,564 clients have signed agreements, 166 have received license agreements and 49 clients, or 0.7 percent, have received more money than they paid the company for services.

It makes no promises, implies no likelihood of success, is upfront about fees, and does not evaluate inventions, its website states.

The invention game is a “high-risk endeavor,” InventHelp says, and “very few inventions make money.”

“Unfortunately,” the company says, “there are a number of fraudulent service providers who will tell you otherwise.”

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67 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for writing this and getting the word out about such companies. As a successful inventor myself and author of IDEA TO INVENTION, I let inventors know that THEY YOU CAN DO THE WORK YOURSELVES. My book tells them how -and if they don’t want to buy it, they can get it at their local library. Learn the steps before getting ripped off!

      • I am a victim of inventhelp and in January i had up until November to continue to pay them 300 plus dollars a month and i stopped for 3 years they’ve done nothing but steal my money and im hurt and embarrassed by it but i trusted them seeing there commercial on t.v for around 30 years, if u like to contact me go ahead my e-mail is white.antoine29@yahoo.com 224-407-1432 I’m Antoine White

      • Is this true because I’m locked in with invent help now for 12000 to 16000 if I’m being scammed then somebody gone be paying with there life on got contact me if there’s something you can help me with on this subject

    • Mrs. Nolan-Brown, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to post a comment. I was looking for a positive view and you provided me with one. I will be looking for your book so I can do research for several ideas I have (but have been too afraid to discuss with anyone and also worried about the costs associated with getting my ideas patented). You are an angel! Again, I really appreciate you taking a moment to let people know they can do this themselves with some or little hard work on their part! God bless you!

  2. I used Invent Help a while ago and was wondering how to get in on the lawsuit to seek damages as well and maybe get my money back. Thanks for any advice.

  3. They are still adding people to the class action. You just have to call Julie at Oxman Law to discuss. 914 422-3900. Good luck!

  4. What’s fraudulent is your article! InventHelp and “Invents” are two different companies! By your accounts you can have a complaint with Ford and then imply that Mercedes had something to do with it. Get your facts straight.. Invents was headquartered in Manhattan and is not affiliated with InventHelp. Nice reporting job.. Bill Hetzel that wrote the article.. you’re in the same irresponsible, careless and unprofessional boat as Invents. I guess it takes one to know one.

    • The relationship between Invests and InventHelp and other details in the story are based on the complaint in the lawsuit.

    • You don’t know what your talking about. As a victim of their scam. And so many others we have the facts . and are out thousands of $$$$ . they do nothing for you but steal your money

    • Are your a satisfied customer? Did they help you? Their are so many others that have had their hard earned money stolen. And we want it back. I sued them in small claims and was suppose to get $5000 . all they did was ignore me.

    • Scotlyn Huh?!!

      You DO realize you just called yourself “…irresponsible, careless and unprofessional..” right?

      I dont care what their name is. Is it not IRONIC, that every detail listed IS what’s going on st INVENTHELP? The complaints are valid enough for a lawsuit. Open your eyes, honey.

    • … You are an … idiot. . . . To bad I’m personally going after all of inventhelps $$$ in more than legal means. Due to the nightmare they have caused I’m returning to them all 10fold….. everyone will get they’re pound of flesh.

    • I live in NC and recently met with the Charlotte regional sales manager to submit my idea for first stage. So this “free consultation” resulted in a $300 initial payment with the remaining balance of $675 to be collected with two separate deductions in the subsequent months. I was not prepared for this financially but was pressured to “begin the process” as it was “potentially worth millions” I have an innovative plan which is solely dedicated to a very lucrative marketplace. When I initially thought of the idea, the first, the one and only idea submissions firm that came to mind was invent help. I completed my written presentation, a time study evaluation, and objective feasibility report aimed at potential clientele. My invent help guy called me to schedule the second meeting. This is when I started an in depth research into.invent help and discovered the class action lawsuits as well as complaints to the BBB with the company’s responses. Accordingly I have decided to not enter into the next step of the process with invent help when we go to the second meeting. I plan to consult with a patent attorney then proceed from there.

  5. I used inventhelp also they told me other day company was interested and said they would pay me 500 to look at it it feels like a scam especially since I seen another woman’s attachment to my email saying samething I still have this proof I’d like my money back and what profits I could have made possibly if I’m being scammed contact me matthewderitis3@gmail.com

  6. I have left a vm with Ms. Plitts’ office. I just signed a contract with IH two days ago and realize I should have done my homework in advance. I wasn’t intending to spend a dime until I understood what services they were to provide. Now I am committed to spending over $800 (have paid $200+ down already) and I’m not even sure what I am supposed to get in return. This sucks.

    • Don’t give them anymore money!!! Sorry for your loss. If your spend any more you will be out thousands. Instread of of couple of hundreds. Call the Oxman law firm. We are trying to get everyone’s money back

    • Please don’t give them any more of your money .better off with a small loss then looseing thousands. Tell them you want your money back .that you know they are a scam and you have the prof . see what they say and get back to us.

  7. Invent Help new in advance that my idea was not original. Even so the agent that was setting things up for my file held papers from my attorney stating that I should not proceed with this idea. Therefore, I had to pay a large amount for research of patents that were already claimed.

    Also, in the Charlotte area he will move his location to mislead more people.

  8. HELLO MY NAME IS JESSE AND I WENT THROUGH { INVENTS COMPANY }I PAYED 10,000. THEY SUPPOSEDLY DID COMMERCIALS SOME WHERE ,NO ONE THAT I KNOW EVER SAW THE COMMERCIALS ; AND TOLD ME THAT MY IDEA DID BETTER THAT ANY OTHER IDEA. EVENTS SHOWED ME A BOOK STATING THAT I WAS GOING TO MAKE MILLIONS . THEY DID A COMPUTER PROTOTYPE THAT WAS CHEAP AND LOOKED LIKE A TOY. I WAS A EASY TARGET BECAUSE I BELIEVED IN MY IDEA. BUT I KNOW I WAS CONNED OUT OF MONEY AND NOT JUST MONEY BUT ALSO CONNED OUT OF TRUST FOR OTHERS,,,,,ITS A SAD DAY . BUT IM ASKING GOD TO DO BACK TO THEM WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO OTHERS AND MORE. THEY SHOULD CALL THE COMPANY { BERNARD MADOFF }

  9. Inventhelp promoted my product without my approval and they then said they made up for it by listing it the next year. The damage was already done as they promoted my product that was not finalized. I also paid for the premium package and they never provided me the prototype offered. They have asked me to settle for $2,500. I need help with this matter. Can anyone help me? I can be reached at russo.b@gmail.com. My name is Ben Russo. Thank you

  10. My experience with Invent help . Was exactly what happened. I contacted invent help, expressing a concept
    By way of using a cell phone as a car alarm system. After supposedly doing a world wide search. This concept didn’t exist. Now today auto have cameras to assist drivers while in use of there vehicles. It was title : “The No Sleeper””.

  11. Hello, Thank God for everyone of you, except scotlyn..he sounds suspicious, like maybe he’s in cahoots with invent help. Anyway ya’ll have saved me from what sounds like a big headache, and financial disaster. I pray to God, each and everyone of you get your money + back. Again Thank ya’ll so much, i was just fixing to do business with I H …wheeew.

  12. I also was a victim back in 2013. My idea was espresso 4 babies which came to me in a dream back in 2002. a device that makes baby formula like a coffee espresso machine. It all checked out that it wasnt anywhere in the world. The confidentiality forms were signed by both parties and the following year my idea was on shelves in walmart target and many huge store chains. Selling @ over $100 a pop. They told me it was a multi million dollar idea. Well it was i knew it would be. I never seen a dime of it!! Davidsons is the company i reached out too. Beware!!!

  13. They got me for 13, 000.00 . I would like to join this lawsuit as I want my money back. We need to shut them down and taking people’s hard earned money.

  14. Got decieved into contract by Inventhelp. They told me it wasn’t a loan only a third party monitoring the transaction. I could stop at anytime without obligation. After I fired them, I get calls from Universal loan threating my credit if I dont continue to pay. My credit was high 600, now low 400. Because of Inventhelp I am now in the process of bankruptcy. #so sad.

  15. I’m so happy I’m not alone it’s so embarrassing I’ve been trying to get finance for a used car I really need a car for work / but invent help has sent me to collections I try to tell them I did not borrow money that they made promises they are professional fast talking hustlers that feed you lyes until you sign the papers saying over & over you can have financial freedom just to tell the story over & over is humiliating & embarrassing!

    • Same with me. My invention is now being sold by a family out of NJ. They filed for the Patent just 1 year after I gave my idea to InventHelp. When I went to InventHelp, there was nothing like my product that existed anywhere. It looks almost identical to mine and they are advertising almost verbatim, with the medical research I had done. If there is a connection, I want to find it so I can get their Patent revoked. Too bad the U.S. changed their Law in 2013 from a “first to invent” to a “first to file”. I have all the proof that I was the Inventor.

  16. It sounds like most of you are just upset that things didn’t go your way. Getting a company to license a new product is a very difficult thing to do. Its a gamble and I’m sure you signed non disclosure statements stating you understood this. Reminds me of when Trump won the seat and all the liberals were crying because things didn’t go their way. When I did business with them last year I knew it was a risk and didn’t spend money on a risky venture that I didn’t have. Even still I received a patent for my product and a foundation for getting my invention in front of companies. There’s no way I could have done what they’ve done on my own so im very thankful.

  17. My father and I are victims as well. I will be reaching out to the attorneys office tomorrow, which is a voting day or Wednesday.

  18. I would like to be added to the lawsuit as well. Paid out over $20,000.00. And no follow ups. The patent lawyer they had working on my patent quit the organization so no patent. Left messages no reply.
    When I signed up was told I had a very unique invention with great potential. All along I had to keep
    fixing their literature as was not the literature or pictures I had given them. Also not told where there were trying to market my product.
    Please email me or text me at 705-627-5730 to let me know how to join this lawsuit.
    Thank you Bill Jenkins

  19. I would like to be added to the lawsuit as well. I paid 10,000 to get a patent from isc and never heard back from them. I have all my papers and contract that was breached by isc.

  20. Wow this is crazy
    They took me for over 1800.00$$$$$
    Having many ideas and inventions I being nieve did not know how to get them to market
    I went to invent help to try a fantastic invention and they scammed me so bad I haven’t tried again
    And all my inventions and my ideas that people would so enjoy are going to waste
    I gave up trying
    I am not a rich man nor poor but trust is gone
    I’m a Giver not a taker
    Steve

    • I called Oxford Law Offices and they said they can add me to the lawsuit, so you should be able to have yourself added as well. 914-422-3900

  21. Are they still looking for people to add to this lawsuit? My husband and I had the same situation! We paid the for over 3 years and stopped when they told us our invention couldn’t be patented even though they said it would be initially. They’ve still been calling/writing us for the balance they are owed.

  22. I paid this company $24,000 just to find out that my patent was already taken years before they did nothing for me but take my money I still have all the paperwork they sent me drawings promises just to find out that they were shut down and change their name to something else

  23. I contacted Oxman Law Group 914-422-3900 and they said that I was able to get onto the lawsuit still so I recommend as many of you that have been scammed by this company to call and leave your info.

  24. back about 2002 I went to invent help with my idea after explaining my idea to them. they told my idea was not invention but more like an experiment and that there was nothing they could do with it so i left. about 1 year later everybody had one for sale. my idea was the sphere magnet or a magnet shaped like a ball. well i called invent help they denied stealing my idea, but they did

  25. Well i’m new with this and i payed 930 dollars and they say it take three weeks to get back the paper to see if this is good investment and i don’t thank this is good cause they told me that this could be good for me and we in march 2019 and i do good a lot to help others and don’t wanted to be played at all. Cause of i guess doing something good you think that will make you money. i just hope they would do the right thing cause i would back stab them right well have good one. and they told me that what this might make i didnt say anything to them about how much i wanted to make.

  26. I had joined Invent Help base on the late night advertisements on tv. Its service was shaky and the agreement was questionable. I was asked to paid $350 out of pocket which is not documented in the agreement and when I could no longer pay the $350 they stop the invention process and reported me to collection agency call Universal Payment that destroyed my credit and caused me pain and unable me to move forward with my life.

  27. I would also like to be added to the lawsuit, they got me to for some. They explain how wonderful they are and what connections they have. Then they have you sign a bunch of documents, and make you feel like you’re in a rush, because they have another appointment. So you don’t carefully read all of them. Fortunately I live in California so the biggest part I can rescind on it. California has a law that gives you 7 days. I am so……. glad you wrote this. Thank You

  28. Shame on the person who wrote this article. The details don’t match with InventHelp or it’s policies even remotely. These comments make even less sense… I worked with InventHelp and was clearly told they make no promises, that its a difficult process and IF I wanted to have the opportunity to get my idea in front of companies, despite the risk, they could help me do it. I did and signed several contracts stating over and over the RISK I was agreeing to, and the opportunity to cancel if I changed my mind. The RISK was stated SO many times, I made a joke to my representative that it sounded like they were trying to talk me out of it! The end result is that my idea went nowhere, but I went into it with my eyes open and accepted that possibility. Its a shame that a company that clearly does the right thing is being destroyed by shyster lawyers looking for a pay off fueled by ignorant people who don’t have or want any facts. Just blindly believe what you read …. unless it’s the truth. Then you don’t want to hear it or even consider that you might be wrong.

  29. Inventhelp stoled my invention too plus my money too! I want to join the lawsuit and get these crooks and get back my invention! I have proof of everything they sent me even though they said all my papers were destroyed!

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