They asked specific questions about the invention and then went on to say they are very excited about pursuing my idea with me. I missed the second call and then started getting messages that red flagged me that they may not be legitimate. Almost scary and very aggressive. I decided that although they told me NOT to patent it... because they would do that as well, I decided to try and get a provisional patent application filed. Is it too late?? PLEASE HELP.
In addition to what Messrs. Williamson and Sherinian have said, I'd urge you to consult with a patent attorney BEFORE you seek to file a provisional patent application.
Avoid falling for the myth that an incomplete disclosure of the invention in a Provisional will protect you. Read about how the New Railhead Mfg. folks are sadder but wiser, after the appellate court in Washington DC endorsed a district court determination that their provisional patent application was inadvertently inadequate.
And since you're in Detroit, note that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office opened a branch there a few weeks ago.
You are still able to seek a patent for your invention. In the United States, at least until March of next year, we are under a first to invent (not first to file) system. Accordingly, even if Davison files first, you would still be able to antedate its filing by proving that you invented first - such as by submitting your disclosure to Davison.
As far as what to apply for, a provisional application is much less expensive. However, you need to keep in mind that provisional applications are not examined and grant no rights, other than allowing you to file a non-provisional application within one year of your filing wherein you can claim priority to the material disclosed in the provisional application.
Good luck with this!
Oops, it appears you have been hooked by the false bait offered by one of the most infamous of invention promoters, that famous outfit from Pittsburgh that is second only to Invention Submission Corp in their long history of complaints. Davison's pitch, unless they have recently changed, is that your invention is great and that you need to pay them to develop a prototype to show industry.
It may well be too late to patent your invention, if you have a patentable invention. It should indeed be a huge RED FLAG when an invention promoter tells you NOT to patent your invention before submitting it to industry. The patent which "they would do that as well" will almost certainly be referred to a patent attorney that works for them. Several invention promoter patent attorneys have been disbarred for conflict of interest in saying they represent you when they really represent the promoter and do sloppy work at high volume and very low quality.
Most of these promoters sign secrecy agreements to make you think you can trust them enough to give them thousands of dollars for worthless services, such as developing a prototype at big expense before you know what you can patent.
Getting a provisional patent application filed is likely the one thing you did right. It may save you, depending on how well it was written.
What you need to do is get some competent advice. You are in luck, really. The patent office has set up a branch office in Detroit. You should wander on over there and ask to speak to someone with their Inventor Assistance Program. They are charged with arranging pro bono services and might just see you as worthy in order to help extract you from the clutches of one of the most notorious invention promoters. Look up www.uspto.gov click on the tab labeled "Inventors" and select "Inventor Assistance" in the drop down menu. Or, go directly to http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/iac/index.jsp Talk to them about possibly filing a complaint on their complaint page, which almost always leads to a settlement offer of full refund from Davison or ISC (InventHelp) both of whom see it as a cost of business necessary to keep the complaint page clear of bad PR about them.
I have been fighting these scoundrels for 20 years so if you want to give me a call I can give you some free assistance. I won't take your case (not big enough to be worth my time), but I think I can tell you in about 1/2 hour how to get a refund from them. Unfortunately, that is probably all you are going to get from this entire process unless you are a real exception (which, despite what they no doubt told you, you almost certainly are NOT.)
Sorry you were victimized. Hope you can turn the tables on those scoundrels.
There was a company called Davison & Associates that was an invention promotion company which was the subject of some complaints with the USPTO and FTC (see http://www.ftc.gov/os/1997/07/davisb~1.htm). I do not know if the company still exists using this or another name, or whether this is in anyway connected with the Davison referenced in your question.
Anyhow, there is a decent patent community in the Detroit area, so you should be able to find a local patent attorney. You can search for one at https://oedci.uspto.gov/OEDCI/. In the meantime, you can read up on the information for independent inventors provided on the USPTO website at http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/index.jsp
Best of luck to you.
I'm assuming you are referring to http://davison.com. It appears from the website that the process for submitting an idea involves agreeing to confidentiality terms stating that "Davison will not use, disclose, license or sell this idea without my express written permission." While you do not yet (according to your question) have any patent interest in the idea, confidential disclosure of a patentable idea to a third party should not act as a bar to patenting the idea. And if Davison were to pursue the idea, you may have a cause of action against them under contract or trade secret laws.
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