Frequently asked questions about what sets AON Invent apart from other invention companies?
“To answer this frequently asked question, we must first explain that we are inventors ourselves and have worked with hundreds of other inventors, consumer-goods companies, and major retailers over the years. We have experience in practically every merchandise category you can think of, from automotive to pharmaceuticals and everything in between. The bottom line? We know what we are doing and understand the challenges of taking products to market. This experience can be a two-edged sword, since we often find it necessary to advise customers not to go forward with a particular invention. Regardless of our recommendation, for your specific invention, you can be sure that we take this process very seriously, even to the point of establishing an independent “Ethics Committee” to assure our customers that AON Invent is living up to our commitment of setting a new standard for ethics in the invention-service and submission industry. In addition to that, the Better Business Bureau has never received a complaint on AON Invent. And we have been in business since January 2, 2013.
Why would you advise someone not to pursue an invention idea?
No inventor wants to hear that verdict, but an honest, “no” is much easier on your pocketbook than a rubber-stamped “yes” that you might get elsewhere. We routinely hear from inventors who have told us about spending tens of thousands of dollars to protect and develop their invention, only to realize they had made a very costly mistake. They chose to work with people who told them what they wanted to hear, instead of experienced consumer goods professionals who would focus on the “invention” and tell them what they needed to hear.
Why does AON charge a fee just to look at an invention?
This was bound to make the FAQ list and is deserving of a thorough answer. Unfortunately, it cost money to evaluate a product concept, regardless of its commercial potential. No inventor would be satisfied with a one-word email saying, “Declined”. And why should they? In most cases they spent a considerable amount of time thinking it through and making a prototype. They deserve to know what led to the panel’s decision. If there was a fair way to vet product concepts for free and only charge for those that make millions of dollars, we would do just that! But that would mean each successful inventor would have to pay for all the concepts that have little or no commercial value. That would dramatically inflate development cost. We believe AON’s value proposition is equitable for all parties. In fact, the way in which AON uses its portion of the licensing revenue is of great benefit to both the inventor and the licensee, because it offsets the manufacturer’s design costs and helps reduce time-to-market, often by 6-12 months.
How do I know you won't just take my money and blow me off with a 'NO'?
During our first year in business, this was probably the most frequently asked question. Over the years our reputation began answering that question. We make decisions on the basis of what makes sense for you, the inventor, rather than what makes dollars for us. Were that not the case, we would eliminate the FREE preliminary vetting process (Step 1) altogether and encourage everyone who visits our office or website to purchase our Step 2 assessment and our full service (Step 3). There are A LOT of companies out there that will tell you what you want to hear and take your money, but we believe it is our responsibility to offer unbiased professional opinions, even though it is much less profitable for AON, since 9 out of 10 inventors who download our Step 1 innovation guide, discover critical flaws or conflicts with existing products without spending a penny with us or anyone else. To look at it in another way, when we assign a 1-star or 2-star rating to an invention, it is our way of preventing someone from wasting great sums of money.
What guarantees can you offer me?
We understand how difficult it is for any inventor to accept an unfavorable review of their concept, but we stand behind our panel’s assessments and offer the following guarantee: If you find commercial success with your invention after our team assessed it as a “1-star” or “2-star” concept, (by developing it yourself or with the aid of another invention service company) AON will publicly congratulate you here on our website and send you a check for five times the amount you paid us for our services.
Note: Perhaps the best testament in support of our service is that since AON Invent first opened its doors on January 2, 2013 not one of our inventor-clients have requested their 5X refund.
Why do you minimize the inventor’s input with product companies?
We know inventors. They are passionate about their vision and usually emotionally-attached to their invention. We also know consumer goods companies. CPGs make decisions based purely on their experience and what they believe will sell. In their world there is little room for emotional attachment. They like things concise and void of emotion. Sometimes potential licensees interpret an emotional plea as an indication of what it might be like to work with an individual inventor. And if they are on the fence about whether or not to make an offer, they may decide to take the safe path and avoid the drama altogether. This is one of the main reasons most companies do not accept ideas directly from inventors. It is also why one of the most frequently asked question that we hear from CPG licensees is, “Can we do this without the inventor being involved”?
Why do you ask to take control of the process?
Our model is set up to gain control of all aspects of the process surrounding your invention, not in order to take advantage of you, but so that we can present your invention in a manner acceptable to CPG companies and have the authority to negotiate on our mutual behalf. This is similar to the way professional athletes and entertainers have agents do their bidding. They know the best way to represent their clients and we believe the best way to sell your product is to allow our experts to work on your behalf, without their hands tied.
Getting any new product to market is always a challenge, but it stands to reason that your chances improve if you allow yourself to benefit from the expertise you are paying for.
How do I know that you are not trying to steal my idea?
Any management control we leverage over your product is intended to aid our efforts to sell or license it. After 270 day (9 months), if we have been unsuccessful in getting your product to market, all rights will be returned to you with time for you to file a non-provisional patent. You also have a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with us, and you own the provisional patent application. Lastly, if we were to steal your idea, you would have every right to be furious and could easily find a willing attorney to come after us with a vengeance, so you could move on to your next innovation. However, in the process, we would lose all credibility and very possibly our business. So when you think about it from that perspective, who really has more at stake?
Note: In our concerted effort to set a new standard for ethics in the invention service industry, we established an outside ethics committee to see to it that we maintain the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
I have been advised not to trust invention service companies.
That is wise advice and the very reason for our unique structure. We knew the water had been muddied in the past by some unscrupulous predators and we were (and remain) committed to offering viable service to inventors as well as Consumer Product Companies. If we present a product that is not patentable, original, or sufficiently protected, we lose credibility in the industry, which hurts everyone involved. For this reason, we evaluate EVERY product and protect it ourselves. If you already filed a provisional patent application, a non-provisional patent or have done a patent search, we will review them, but we will not automatically accept them. Patent-work, like everything else, comes in varying degrees of quality. Our legal services are contracted through reputable, registered patent attorneys whose first priority is protecting the inventor, not collecting fees on weak concepts that have no chance in the marketplace.
If my product does not make it through AON's system (Step 3), will I get my money back?
You will be refunded any unused portion of your upfront fee. Our fees are based on real services that you receive. If we pay for a patent search and discover your idea is not original, you will automatically receive a partial refund based on the amount of work provided.
How do you protect me from losing money?
Your product will be assessed by our retail and consumer goods experts through an initial vetting. If they believe your product is commercially viable, we will tell you so before asking you to invest another penny in the process. This is why we have a 3-step process: we take “baby steps” to make sure you don’t throw your life savings into a bottomless pit with little or no hope of return.
How does AON Invent stop this process from being a bottomless pit?
Your upfront fees for Step 2 and Step 3 are all you will ever pay us. If your product is licensed to a company, they (the licensee) will pay the fees to develop and manufacture it.
How do I know that people are actually looking at my invention?
We don’t just stick an image of your invention on a website and hope a major consumer goods company finds it. Our process is much more proactive. We target relevant companies and pitch them on why your invention would be a great line-extension for their brand. Then we document that discussion in your concept file and mark it for followup. Feedback collected during this process is often very helpful in revising the concept for future pitches. This is significantly different from the traditional model of a promise to send your invention out to a few companies in an unvetted format.
What do I need to do to get started?
Glad you asked! Now that you’ve had a chance to read through our FAQs, you’re ready to get started with our Step 1 Innovation Guide. This will walk you through some methods to quickly validate your idea before scheduling a consultation with us. It’s totally free and available to download in the box below.