FTC alleges company’s practices are “patently” deceptive

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Threats of imprisonment, warnings about extortion, and a security team allegedly comprised of ex-Israeli Special Ops trained in Krav Maga? It sounds like an action-packed movie plot, but it’s all related to a complaint filed by the FTC. And you’ll never guess the nature of the defendants’ business.

They sell patent and invention promotion services – or at least that’s what defendants World Patent Marketing, Desa Industries, and CEO Scott Cooper claim.

Through TV ads, telemarketing, and the internet, the Florida-based defendants tout their services as a way for inventors to patent their products and make big money. According to the FTC, in their initial conversation with an inventor, the defendants’ sales people invariably praise the invention, but say they need “Board” or “Team” approval. Then comes the call saying the invention has been “accepted,” and that if the inventor signs up for the defendants’ services, they’re likely to realize financial gain and possibly see their product sold at big-name retail stores.

Sales people emphasize World Patent Marketing’s track record of success, often citing glowing testimonials on the company’s website. At some point, potential customers are told that to proceed, they’ll need to buy a “Global Invention Royalty Analysis” that supposedly contains expert evaluations of the patentability and marketability of the invention – a purchase that sets buyers back at much as $1295.

When the report arrives, the FTC alleges that inventors are told (surprise, surprise) that their idea is indeed patentable and marketable. That’s when the sales people amp up the pitch for “packages” of various services, ranging from $7995 to almost $65,000. But once the ink is dry and the checks are cashed, buyers say that the defendants’ enthusiasm wanes and all they get for their money are low-effort, low-value things like domain registrations, logos, or press releases.

According to the FTC, virtually none of the defendants’ customers have made any money through their services – or even recoup what they shell out. What’s more, the complaint alleges that the defendants generally fail to get people patents, don’t secure licensing deals or royalty income for them, and didn’t even successfully market the inventions featured in their website testimonials. The FTC says the defendants leave many customers in debt, having kissed their life savings good-bye.

So how does Krav Maga come in? According to the FTC, customers who dared to complain have been threatened with a one-two punch.

The FTC alleges that dissatisfied customers who said they were going to post unfavorable reviews about World Patent Marketing or report them to the Better Business Bureau or law enforcers were threatened with lawsuits, criminal charges, and even prison. For example, when one purchaser mentioned a possible BBB complaint, she allegedly received a letter from a lawyer for defendant Cooper, stating that “you have proceeded far beyond what the law defines as free speech and, instead, have engaged in an unlawful and intentional interruption of World Patent Marketing’s business.” When she went ahead and filed a complaint, she got a letter from a second lawyer saying that her efforts to get a refund constitute extortion under Florida law and “since you used email to make your threats, you would be subject to a federal extortion charge, which carries a term of imprisonment of up to two years and potential criminal fines.”

In addition to filing at least one lawsuit to suppress consumer complaints, the defendants allegedly use other tactics to cultivate a threatening atmosphere. For example, in an email to existing customers, the defendants linked to a company blog that claimed a consumer who visited the defendants’ office was expelled by the company’s “intimidating security team, all ex-Israeli Special Ops and trained in Krav Maga, one of the most deadly of the martial arts.” The blog further described them as “the kind of guys who are trained to knockout first and ask questions later.”

In addition, defendants have included in their consumer contracts a “Confidentiality and Nondisparagement” provision – we call it a gag clause – stating:

The Client and WPM shall refrain from making . . . any and all disparaging, negative, or other similar statements concerning either of them to any third party, including but not limited to individuals, entities, internet websites, blogs, publications, postings, emails, and any social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and wikis.

The lawsuit challenges a host of defendants’ business practices as deceptive. The FTC also alleges that the defendants’ threats, intimidation, and gag clauses constitute unfair practices, in violation of the FTC Act.

A federal court in Florida has entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants. But even at this early stage, the case offers tips both for companies in the patent or invention promotion business and for inventors. Businesses need to know that representations about patentability, marketability, or potential earnings are subject to established FTC truth-in-advertising standards. For inventors, the FTC has advice on questions to ask before paying for invention promotion services.

 

Comments

I can relate to everything being said above, because I have been and am going through this right now. I have paid World Patent Marketing $7,095.00 with no satisfaction. I don't even know if they did anything they said they would do. They supposedly filed a provisional patent for me in April 2016 and I have asked them many times for a filing receipt, but I still have not gotten one. I hope you can help us.

I have read everything and it is exactly what has been done to me. I have been working with WPM for about 1 year and 1 month now. I have invested 140 K now and all I have is a picture of my invention. They referred me to a 3rd party patent attorney for which I don't trust either now. I'm not sure if my 3 patents are even real now. Have my life savings involved with nowhere to turn !

I can sadly relate to the tune of $16,995.................pretty sick here sure hope I can recoup something! Feel like a Maddoff victim!

Can anyone tell me if we can continue to move forward and submit our ideas to other companies while this case is going on? According to a law firm we should not be held liable if a company did not hold up to their end of the bargain! If I know for sure...I would like to start and submit to other companies. You would think the FTC would have posted " ALL CONTRACTS ARE VOIDED" [contact information deleted] Thank you and God Bless everyone who is going through this.

I shelled out 25,000.00 for my invention already, I already had my patent pending done before I sent my 25,000.00 to WPM. all I needed is get my invention patented and get it legal to keep it safe. but no thanks to dumb - - - !!!!! SCOTT J COPPER he took my dream away from us!!!!. IF WE ALL STAY TOGETHER we can put him in PRISION for a long time !!! I'F WE PRAY we may get our dreams back and our money and hope SCOTT J COPPER ROTS IN PRISION !!!!!!!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND SPEAK YOUR MIND !!!! THANK YOU ALL....

Hey guys, How can we stay together??? I just spoke with Ms. Coleen Robins, the FTC staff contact, about the case. I'm not very familiar with civil or criminal law, but she explained a bit to me. It looks like this is only a civil case and the only assets they've been able to freeze is about $2,000,000. out of $26,000,000. of clientele losses. I can't recall the terms she used but today the judge will be ruling on some aspect of the case. I did find out that none of the clients of WPM have to submit or do anything in order to be on a list to receive if funds are recovered. We just have to wait and here is the receivership page to stay up to date on what petitions, appeals and judgments are made. There isn't a lot there, but at least its a way to stay informed. As far as going after WPM criminally, she said that wouldn't be up to the victims, but the courts if they find enough evidence that falls into the category of criminal, then they would appoint counsel for that I suppose. In my opinion, it shouldn;t be so hard to prove. I will be praying about this. I had given up, but after reading the last 2 comments here, I am reminded that with God all things are possible! We lost $11,000. with this evil person and his 'company'. I believe our case could be used in a criminal category because our invention is designed to protect babies from being forgotten in a car. Had I found a reputable company rather than a fraud, there are over 50 babies that may still be alive today. I was able to patent my invention on my own and now I have no money left to market it. Afraid to trust anyone even if I did. Yes indeed, Scott Cooper,Jay Shapiro, Yves Cham and many others...but especially Scott Cooper, has the blood of many babies on his hands. Here is the website for the receivership. emailto:info@worldpatentmarketingreceivership.com I just joined a facebook group called "World Patent Marketing Class Action Lawsuit" for telling your story, following the case and supporting others in our boat. They make it clear it is a professional site and not for bashing WPM. Everyone wants to I'm sure, but then we'd all have to sift through all of those comments to find useful info. OK, folks...God bless you all and I wish you full recovery of your funds and decades of success with your inventions.

With much disappointment I've been following this case since inception. I solicited WPM over a year and a half ago and have paid approximately $21,000 of my hard earned money; all to find out they were NOT promoting ethical business practices. It is such a shame that people/companies defraud folk who are trusting to receive the services paid for. I could say so much more but... I have continued on my journey without WPM because I will not be STOPPED!

I am a victim as well WPM took $12995.00 from me. It's been over a year I hear not a word from them. Now the have shut down by FTC lawyer asking me to pay fees that they suppose to get from WPM. This is reduculous. That was all o hade, what should I do... Somebody help please in this matter.

Thanks

I've takin a big loss from putting my money in the hands of wpm. At the end of it all, I am just wanting for some kind of Justice to be served to whom ever had any wrong doing in this company. +Let go and let God+

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