September 07, 2007

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced on Thursday that a $60 million court judgment was assessed against the Patent and Trademark Institute (“PTI”), an invention promotion company, for defrauding approximately 17,000 consumers. According to the Newsday.com article (link below), PTI “promised consumers it would screen their ideas before taking fees,” but that “nearly all ideas made it through the screening process.” PTI, based in Garden City, New York, was ordered by the FTC in 1998 to alert future PTI customers that no prior customer has ever made the amount of money back that he or she has paid to PTI for their services. The $60M judgment, ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia based upon violations of the 1998 order, resulted in part from a large number of consumer protection complaints received since the 1998 order. According to the FTC Press Release (link below), “For a fee of $5,000 to $45,000, PTI’s clients were offered legal protection and assistance to obtain commercial licenses for their inventions. They also were told that PTI would help them earn substantial royalties from their inventions, but PTI did not help consumers license their inventions, and clients did not earn royalties.” Several other companies operated through PTI, including Azure Communications Inc., London Communications Inc. and United Licensing Corp, International Patent Advisors Inc., Datatech Consulting Inc., International Marketing Inc. and Unicorp Consulting Inc., were all held in contempt by the Virginia court. The FTC has set up a phone number (available in the FTC link below) for consumers to call if they believe they have been defrauded by PTI.

Newsday.com Article: LINK
FTC Press Release: LINK

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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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