11/22/2010 10:25 AM (PST)
You can look through the BBB Accredited Business Directory here:
Type in "patent" for Type of Business and enter your zip code. You'll get a list of business nearby who can offer assistance, and are Accredited BBB Businesses. Make sure to review their reports to look for complaint statistics and any other concerns.
Be wary of invention marketing firms. The way these businesses work is the company purports to help you get a patent on a product and then, at least in theory, will assist you in marketing the invention.
In general, most of these companies have a two phase process. In the first phase, they ostensibly evaluate your invention etc and for this, they usually charge around 2,000. In the next phase, you'll be told that you've invented the next light bulb and are sitting on a gold mine. All you'll have to do is pay around 10,000 and they'll prepare a marketing plan with an eye toward finding someone to license or manufacture the product. The problem is that once the money is paid, somehow all the companies that were dying to get their hands on your invention mysteriously disappear.
The FTC has gone after some of these type of companies in the past and now they're required to make certain disclosures in their offerings. Check with the US Patent and Trademark's office website and you'll find extensive materials about these kind of offers and all of the problems associated with them. The FTC's site also contains similar information