|How I Learned To Become A Successful Inventor|
George Santayana (18631952), a U.S. philosopher and poet said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." A study of the history of American inventors, especially inventors whose careers started between 20 and 40 years ago, has been crucial to my success as an independent inventor. America's phenomenal economic success has been driven by a number of factors such as abundance of natural resources, a population of pioneers that were willing to take risks, and most important American inventiveness. Our patent system led to the formation of many great companies such as AT&T / Bell, Ford, GE, IBM, and Litton to name a few. The problem is companies who are birthed by inventors have a life cycle similar to, but generally longer, than man.
When young these companies were run by the inventors and were willing to take big risks introducing new inventions. With success, and middle age, they became more rigid and less willing to take risk. They continued to invent but the inventions were not as dramatic as those that founded them were. They also generally become predators on other inventors during their mid life. They use their huge resources and influence to crush the upcoming generation of inventors and generally do their best to not compensate the inventor.
Sustained success over a long period often leads to stagnation. Once stagnation sets in the companies lose the desire to innovate and are unwilling to take any risk. At this stage in their life, they become very active politically in an effort to legislate an environment where they can continue to profit without risk.
There were many opportunities, niches to fill, for inventors during the first 75 to 100 years of our history. During that time the difference in size and assets between the big and small companies was much smaller than today. The patent system worked very well to during this time.
The next 100 years was a bleak time for most solo inventors. The very companies that were founded by innovators became predators that did their best to crush any upstarts that dared to challenge them. During this time the only way inventors were likely to succeed was by starting their own company. Things were so bad that some inventors committed suicide.
Those who attempted to sell patents generally died paupers, and a business manager type, who was not creative and did not appreciate the value of invention, usually displaced those who started companies. The inventor / founder generally suffered the same fate as their pears who simply tried to sell their patent. During this time, the only inventors that succeeded were those that were in a niche market, able to grow a company without crossing swords with an entity that was much larger than they were.
Before the formation of the CFAC (Circuit Federal Appellate Court), it was next to impossible for any inventor to get justice. The courts ruled repeatedly that independent or small entity patents were not valid.
The CFAC was established about a decade ago. Within three or four years, it started handing serious defeats to those who have copied and stolen the property of inventors. Now our patent system is being attacked by the same entities that have been found guilty repeatedly. Their solution is not to start dealing in a reputable manner but instead to alter our patent laws so they can return to the good old days when they simply took what they wanted.
Which brings me to my study of a number of contemporary inventors who started their careers during the dark ages before the CFAC was established. I studied the following inventors.
- Damadian - MRI
- Gorden Gould - Laser
- Wilson Greatbatch - Pacemaker
- Bob Kearns - Delay windshield wiper
- Jerome Lemelson - Machine vision, Automated warehouse, etc. Over 500 patents
Both Gordon Gould and Lemelson have been the objects of industry smear campaigns. Gould prevailed, in spite of the fact that the whole laser community was involved in the attack. Lemelson is currently being attacked by much of industry. NAM, AIPLA and IPO are all active in the attacks.
Gordon Gould is the inventor of the laser. Jerome Lemelson is the third most prolific inventor in the history of our country (Edison is first, Land is second) and the most prolific inventor of our time. He is now in his seventies, a philanthropist that has funded numerous historical and educational programs.
Through their foresight and shear tenacious, this generation of inventors blazed a trail and set an example that allows my generation to invent and gives us at least a fighting chance of being compensated for our inventiveness.
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