Monday, December 1, 2008
A dour economy has added another casualty.
INPEX, billed as the nation’s biggest and longest-running trade show for inventors, has been canceled for 2009.
InventHelp, the company behind INPEX, decided to pull the plug in the face of worsening economic conditions, which include mounting job losses, increasing home foreclosures and the nation’s auto industry teetering on collapse.
The 2009 show would mark the 25th year of INPEX, held in Pittsburgh. As of Monday afternoon, InventHelp’s Web site had the 2009 show listed for June 24-26.
“Join us in celebrating our 25th year!” read a registration announcement on the site, adorned with a spent champagne cork.
The site’s brochure said representatives from Direct Response – the As Seen On TV company that places products on infomercials and home shopping shows – were scheduled to conduct product reviews at the 2009 event.
INPEX spokeswoman Nicole Hait said the show is merely postponed and will return between April and June 2010.
Hait said INPEX staff is contacting exhibitors who have registered for 2009. They are invited to be a part of INPEX’s pavilion at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, March 22-24, roll over their deposits for the 2010 INPEX show, or request a refund.
“Our goal is to have the 25th anniversary be the best show we’ve ever had,” she told Inventors Digest. “But it’s been harder to get companies to commit with the economy the way it is.”
Postponing, she added, is “the right thing to do for inventors.”
The news is a dramatic turnaround from the festive glow of success at the 24th annual show earlier this year. More than 300 exhibitors and some 1,500 attendees from around the world flocked to the event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. INPEX moved to this larger venue from one in the outskirts of Pittsburgh in 2008 to accommodate growing attendance.
The 2008 show drew product-review buyers from Robert Bosch Tool Corp., Everlast, Hasbro, Tupperware and Irwin. A camera crew from The Tonight Show With Jay Leno also held court at the entrance of the massive exhibit hall.
While INPEX has generated largely positive reviews for its ample networking opportunities and inventor access to corporate buyers, many remain wary of its parent InventHelp, a controversial invention-submission company that has been the target of lawsuits and consumer complaints.
In 1994, without admitting guilt, the company settled allegations of fraud with the Federal Trade Commission.
Bonnie Griffin Kaake, former executive director of the United Inventors Association and owner of Innovative Consulting Group in Golden, Colo., has been a critic of INPEX because of its ties to InventHelp.
When told INPEX was canceled for 2009, her reaction echoed that of others in the inventor community. "Wow. Are you serious?"
Despite her criticism of InventHelp, she said INPEX, “like all inventor trade shows, gives inventors a chance to feel what it’s like to show their inventions in public and to do a 30-second elevator pitch.”
There will be one less opportunity to make such a pitch, with INPEX out of the picture in 2009.
INPEX’s Hait said she’s optimistic the economy will rebound. And the extra time to prepare for the 2010 show will help INPEX stage a big silver anniversary.
“The last thing you want,” she said, “is a show without visitors and floor traffic.”