Patent/Invention Promotion firms:

While the USPTO does not investigate complaints about invention promoters or promotion firms - or get involved in any legal proceedings relating to such firms - there is a public forum to publish complaints against such firms. The protections you have from invention promotion firms is spelled out in laws passed in 1999. These promotion firms have specific duties of disclosure under this act. You can see the entire act in pdf form at: Patent: American Inventors Protection Act of 1999

The Federal Trade Commission has published a Consumer Alert about fraudulent promotion firms.To view the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Alert "Spotting Sweet-Sounding Promises of Fraudulent Invention Promotion Firms" go to FTC Consumer Alert for inventor protection

Published complaints filed against promoters can be seen on the USPTO site. It would be a good idea to check these complaints before signing with an invention promotion firm. Go to: USPTO Complaints

Resources - Books

If you really don't want an attorney, and want to try to file an application yourself - or - if you want to be prepared before you talk to an attorney - here are some books to help you:

The layman's "bible" and one that I have used to refresh my knowledge is Pressman's book. It is relatively easy to read and goes step by step. Enough information to get you into trouble :-)

One that is more technically written - actually written for law students as a "hornbook" - don't ask me where that name came from - that's what they call them - is this one:

One that I have not read yet but I am including based on the reputation of this particular series is PTC For Dummies. Most books in this series give you a good basic education on a subject - but in the patent realm it may not be enough to let you fly solo in submitting a patent application.

A concise guide that explains Patent Law exclusively for inventors..."An Easy to Understand ebook Helps You Gain the Specialized Knowledge You Need."

Patents Exposed: A Complete Crash Course For Inventors