Inventors Insider: 3 Ways to Protect Your Invention

Resources and information for inventors and those aspiring to get a business idea to market

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“The difference between a great idea, and making money from a great idea is execution,” says Louis J. Foreman, chief executive officer of Edison Nation, a social community and company that helps inventors turn an idea into a retail-ready product. Edison Nation sprung out of Everyday Edison, an Emmy Award-winning reality-styled television series on PBS that Foreman hosts. The show lets 10 inventors compete against one another to win an opportunity to develop their idea into a product. If they win, they’ll receive a $2,500 advance, along with 10% of royalties from sales, which could add up to 50% of the profit margin.

Inventors don’t have to spend a dime towards the manufacturing of their product. They submit the idea to Edison Nation, who then puts their idea in front of retailers and manufacturers. The members can win a sponsor-specific product search, which is done when companies like Nautilus, Hammacher Schlemmer, West Point Home, and Walmart want to invest in a new idea for a specific category.

Not everyone with a multi-million dollar idea is going to make it on the Everyday Edison television show or win a product specific search. While, Foreman’s company and the PBS television show provide a safe resource for inventors, there are others who aren’t as trustworthy. The Inventors Insider caught up with Foreman at the Product-n-Press Inventor meet and greet in August, and he gave us advice on what inventors should do to make sure they don’t get scammed while trying to take their inventions to market:

Surround yourself with good people. Find people who have a good track record, and people who have done it before, people who can point to specific successes. For example Edison Nation has helped almost 75 people bring their products to market.

Do a thorough background check. The internet is great in that respect. Type in the name of the company and see if they have any complaints. Make sure it is a reputable company. The best place to go to is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It has wonderful independent inventor resources. The other site that I personally am a big fan of is Edison Nation because there are forums on every single topic related to inventing where you can talk to others who have been successful or failed. Also try Inventors Digest Magazine which has been around for 25 years.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. There are firms out there claiming to help inventors get their ideas to market. You have to be careful. Some are more interested in collecting fees then they are in commercializing the ideas. They will tell you how great your idea is and that it is a billion dollar industry and they will charge you a lot of money to bring your product to market. If you are skeptical, they will ask you “Why wouldn’t you invest in your product? Think about how much money you can make.” Be really careful. If it is a really good idea, those companies should be willing to put their own skin in the game. We at Edison Nation invest our own dollars into developing these products. We’ve invested hundreds of thousands of our own dollars because we think an idea is a great idea.

For more information:

Top Ten Scam Warning Signs

The Federal Trade Commission: Spotting Fraudulent Firms

A Warning about Scams Targeting Inventors

  • Tracey Washington

    Black Enterprise, please do not endorse Edison Nation. This company has the worst customer service imaginable! You can only reach them through email, which they continuously ignore, even to paying customers. I purchased a book through their website on November 23rd. To date, I have not received my book, a refund, or a response to the 5 emails that I have sent. I even posted on their open blog twice, which they made private so that no one could see it, and they never responded. $24 is not really a lot of money, but consider if they are getting that from 100 people and not delivering the product that was ordered. What about if 1000 people paid them that $24? I really look to BE for reliable information. However, this company should not be one that you endorse. Maybe you can get Mr Foreman to send me my book or refund my money!

  • Sorry to read of your negative experience with Edison Nation. That is bad business. I hope you have gotten either your book by now or your money back by now. It is good you made this public. I was going to deal with them with one of my inventions, however, I will have to reassess things. Please have a “Happy New Year”!

  • victor

    I also purchased a book through Edison Nation on 12/04/2010. I have yet to réceive my book, a refund or even a courtesy response. I’ve sent them six emails and have not heard from them at all. I have been unable to find a contact phone number so that I can speak to a live person. Very, very poor customer service. Please warn your own customers to stay away!

  • TrillionairenTheMaking

    As I read reviews online about Edison Nation, I came across a few that read almost verbatim to my experience with this company! I submitted an idea to them and it made it to the 3rd tier only to stop there. I thought ok, that’s fine but THEN less than one year, I saw an advertisement for my same idea – right down the EXACT illustration mock ups, ad-copy and other information that I submitted directly to Edison Nation! I was floored and angry and hurt all at once. I contacted EN and they, of course, gave me the standard Plausible Den. rhetoric; however, both I and God know what transpired there. The problem may or may not be at the top levels of the company, but somewhere within their system they are flawed because someone within their company ‘leaked’ my idea (or just outright sold it) to another company for profit. I received nothing but broken dreams. Thank God I am not a quitter but DO NOT SEND YOUR IDEAS TO THIS COMPANY. This is the inventor’s greatest nightmare.

  • Cory Simas

    Sorry to hear about your experience with Edison nation. I believe this happened to me with another company. Are you saying there are few people claiming Edison Nation steals ideas? This information could really help myself and others. Thanks