Hidden Camera Gets ISC on TV

In May, TV 4 (Pittsburgh, Pa.) aired a piece called, “Team 4 Investigates Invention Promotion Companies: Largest One Headquartered In Pittsburgh.” The station’s investigator, Jim Parsons, reported, “An estimated 25,000 inventors each year take their ideas to one of these [invention marketing] companies. And, as Team 4 found out with hidden cameras and an invention of our own, no idea is too ridiculous.”Parsons profiled inventors who had paid thousands to an invention marketing company and gotten nothing in return. He also interviewed Lynn Alstadt, a patent attroney who teaches law at the University of Pittsburgh, who said, “It truly amazes me how people are willing to spend $5,000, $10,000 for these invention marketing companies. They take anything that comes in the door.” Would such a company really take anything? “Team 4 wanted to see if that was true.” reported Parsons, “so we came up with the silliest invention we could think of. The result? The phone hat. We asked a seamstress to sew it together. The phone slips into a pouch, then it fits over the head and, voila, a cheap, hands-free cellphone. Ridiculous, right? Not according to a salesman at ISC.” Parsons took his invention and a hidden camera to the company’s Columbus, Ohio, office.ISC is Invention Submission Corporation and the salesman Roger Mesecher told Parsons that the phone hat had “a good shot. It’s certainly about the average. It isn’t something wacky.” Parsons went on to report that “Mesecher should not have said that, according to Jennifer Lawlor, an ISC executive in Pittsburgh. ‘Our policy is not to give you an evaluation of your invention, and so if that was the case, probably Roger’s going to be coming in for retraining.'”ISC doesn’t give chances of success, either, because Lawlor said, “Well, we’re not allowed to talk about success.” Parsons reported that “ISC’s success stories are few. From 1997 to 1999, the company signed up more than 5,000 new clients. But only 11 clients earned more money than they paid ISC.”

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