A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against the below entities and yet-unnamed John Doe defendants over their alleged involvement in a scam the plaintiff claims is responsible for duping thousands of inventors into paying millions for fraudulent invention promotion services:
- Invention Submissions Corporation, doing business as InventHelp;
- Technosystems Consolidated Corp.;
- Technosystems Service Corp.;
- Western Invention Submission Corp.;
- Universal Payment Corporation;
- Intromark Incorporated;
- Innovation Credit Corp.;
- Robert J. Susa, president of InventHelp;
- Thomas Frost, P.A.; and
- Above Board Drafting, Inc.
The complaint pegs the defendants as the companies behind the ubiquitous television commercials that feature a caveman sitting on a rock, banging a stone wheel with a chisel, who promises consumers that InventHelp can connect them with companies in search of new ideas. The lawsuit alleges that not only are the services offered by InventHelp itself fraudulent, but that the defendants, contrary to their public representations, are actually parts of one single duplicitous outfit. From the complaint:
"Defendant InventHelp is the conduit through which all Class Plaintiffs are defrauded. Whilst InventHelp, Universal Payment Corporation, Intromark Inc., and the other named Defendants hold themselves out to be independent companies, they are one and the same, and are parts of an integrated fraudulent enterprise. The schemes, trickery, and fraud set forth herein are universal and indistinguishable, notwithstanding the titles of the entities with which Class Plaintiffs believe they are dealing.”
The defendants’ marketing materials go far in creating the illusion that the companies have been successful in helping inventors monetize their creations, the lawsuit continues. Many of the products to which the defendants’ names are attached come replete with “As Seen On TV” branding, which the case slams as just one component in the illusion that the companies are a legitimate enterprise. In reality, the defendants supposedly prey on would-be inventors through a scheme “cleverly constructed to avoid liability and monetary judgment” by way of the companies’ web of ostensibly independent entities, which the case says includes promotion companies, private money lenders, patent lawyers, licensing and distribution firms, and manufacturers.
As for the alleged predatory scheme itself, the 47-page lawsuit states that after luring proposed class members in with “slick television and internet advertising,” the defendants then assure those who sign onto their services that their ideas are “unique, patentable, and/or carry terrific potential for immense profit.” The defendants then allegedly offer proposed class members a host of purported services related to loans, research, patenting, promotion, marketing, manufacturing, and licensing and distribution. According to the case, the fees proposed class members pay for such services can range from $700 all the way up to $30,000.
Not every inventor has the capital to make use of the defendants’ offerings, the lawsuit continues, which leads many to take “generous loans” fronted by the supposed independent money arm of the operation, defendant Universal Payment Corporation.
“This ‘independent private money lender’ is not independent at all—it operates under the same ownership and control as InventHelp,” the complaint alleges, “and is an indispensable arm of the fraudulent scheme described herein.”
This is only the tip of the iceberg, as the lawsuit goes on to say that while some proposed class members bear great expense to take care of the initial fees, the defendants make off with inventors’ money and “do little to nothing to fulfill their end of the bargain.” Proposed class members are strung along with “false promises and boilerplate ‘analyses,’” the suit says, which only serve to extract more money for the defendants, who apparently all but disappear once an inventor’s funds have been secured.
According to the case, proposed class members often get “months or years of silence” from the defendants, until the companies show back up allegedly asking for more money in order to “make final arrangement” for distribution, marketing or manufacturing.
“After scamming more money from Plaintiffs, they disappear without a trace,” the plaintiff alleges. “Fraud permeates all of the dealings and contracts between Class Plaintiffs and all Defendants herein, from start to finish. Defendants’ enterprise as a whole is fraudulent, and Defendants fraudulently induce Class Plaintiffs to sign various contracts.”
The case goes on to claim the defendants misrepresent the contents of their contracts with proposed class members, who, after allegedly being subjected to high-pressure sales tactics, are effectively tricked into signing documents before they have the opportunity to conduct a meaningful review.