Patent and registered trademarks are investments that only make sense when part of an overall business plan. They are not get rich quick schemes. And a business plan is not something you buy from an invention promotion company. Common sense and diligence are required. Do as much research as you can on the market and competing products or ideas. There are self help resources that can provide some assistance. I would like to think this website can provide some help.
In the Houston area, there are organizations that provide seminars and training regarding creating realistic business plans. These organizations include the Houston Technology Center, Rice Alliance, MIT Enterprise Forum, Bio Houston, and Houston Inventors Association.
Some basic facts are that the patenting process takes two or three years and possibly longer. A trademark application for registration on the Principal Register of the USPTO can take one to two years.
Both patents and registered trademarks require periodic payment of fees in order to remain in force. Registered trademarks also require filing of statements of continued use. Missing deadlines can cause your rights to be abandoned.
It is possible to obtain international patent and trademark protection, but requires following a separate filing and fee protocol. As a general matter, foreign patents are expensive to acquire and maintain.
Patents, copyrights and trademarks are property and like all other property, can have great or little value.
As a general matter, I would encourage you to avoid invention promotion companies. I have seen too many examples of people paying thousands of dollars without a patent application ever being filed.
Updated October 2, 2013