The Federal Trade Commission has amended its complaint against the operators of an invention-promotion scheme, World Patent Marketing (WPM), that allegedly deceived consumers and suppressed complaints about the company, including by threatening dissatisfied customers with criminal prosecution.
According to the FTC’s original complaint, filed in March 2017, consumers paid the defendants thousands of dollars to patent and market their inventions based on bogus “success stories” and other misrepresentations.
A federal court in Miami, Florida, temporarily halted the scheme and froze its assets pending litigation. On June 5, the court extended its temporary restraining order until June 26, 2017.
The amended complaint alleges that WPM claimed its clients’ products were sold in numerous popular “big box” stores, even though no such inventions are sold in any brick and mortar stores. According to the FTC, WPM also touted licensing deals between inventors and “WPM China” involving WPM’s purported manufacturing plant in China; yet, “WPM China” does not exist, and WPM has no manufacturing plant in China. Further, the amended complaint alleges that WPM falsely told consumers that its review team needed to approve their ideas before they could move forward with the company, when in fact no such review occurred.
The Commission vote approving the amended complaint was 2-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on May 25, 2017.