There are two types of inventors. One works for an organization such as manufacturer, public utility, branch of the government. During the course of conducting their duties, either it is a part of their work or just happens to come up with an idea, the concept will be reported to the management, and decision to file for a patent will be made. Concepts born under this circumstances tend to be a part of a large scale product/system, and they tend to be related to other patent applications supporting the product. If anything, concepts born out of this type of circumstances tend to be more refined, precise and often well-described. They are called defensive patents.
Second group are so-called amateurs. There are large number of people who are curious, inventive and wish very much to own a patent or two. They dream of various solutions real or imaginary and work hard to develop conceptual solutions. In my career of inventing, I have witnessed and advised many inventors of this type, who have either spent a large sum of money to patent counsels (IP lawyers) and finally received a patent or two. The only problem is that nobody shows up at the door wanting to either buy, license or be a partner to that patents. Namely, the inventor after all that effort and expenses, cannot monetize the accomplishment.
During this coming series of this column, in which a technology to automatically prevent texting while driving (TWD) will be submitted to apply for a patent, those amateur inventors will be able to witness the Inventics® process through which his/her idea will be scrutinized first, written up and applied for provisional patent as well as a patent. The process will be called Inventics® , methodology developed at American Invention Institute. Inventics® is a common-sense approach in methodology to make sure that the concept is appropriate to solve a problem, and there is a certain commercial market for the product/service once patent is granted.
First of all, let us make sure the problem is real. I mean “real”. This is the most important step in the Inventics. Is there large enough number of people actually suffering from this problem? Are these people suffering with so much inconvenience that they are willing to pay some money to obtain the solution?
Many new products we encounter in our daily life is not based upon genuine problems. There are so many hi-tech products that get announced daily that literally bewilders you if you go to www.gizmag.com, a site that reports such products. Most of the products shown in the site either disappear shortly from the market or never make it to the market. Most of them are based on either a perceived need by the people who developed it, or false premise that market would develop once the product appear in the market. That is wishful thinking. One prominent example is a car that also can fly. Do you actually know someone who is suffering painfully because he/she can’t have a car that could also fly? A car that can be driven in such places as Boston, New York and LA downtown traffic, and can take off given a runway as an airplane? Some people might have a fleeting thought that such a product might be nice and convenient to have around, but I doubt that anyone would seriously consider plunking down several hundred thousand dollars to buy it. Such a product probably is not a good car, and not a good airplane as well, let alone various problems rising out of complex regulatory governance for airplanes as well as automobiles.
I have noticed in the past that amateur inventors often are attracted to pseudo problem like this, and would respond to the challenge to solve the problem. That is the death wish of amateur inventors, and often they end up bankrupting themselves.