Inventing the bulb: Preventing Re-invention
‘He copied my invention’. Oh really? Many inventors feel that their invention can fetch them a patent. While, there are many in the inventor’s club who compare patent with the Holy Grail. They assume that their small improvement over existing technologies is not an amazing technology to provide them a patent with. This is not completely true. It is true that many nations enforce patent laws to encourage inventors by giving them an exclusive right on their invention for a period of time. Though, there is one hidden objective of patent laws around the world not realized by many. Patent laws prevent re-inventions.
Thomas Alva Edison, one of the great inventors in the world, had a massive number of 1,093 patents in his name. Many critics say that he never invented any of his inventions. Others argue that he made improvements in the present inventions and thus innovated. This is the key difference being talked about in the last blog post on ‘…innovation and invention’. Edison did what interest him and he found the gaps in present technology. His famous quotes describe this ideology, which led him to form a technology company, presently known as General Electric (GE).
“I make what people want.
“Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.”
Why is the world moving so fast in the past few decades? How are we having new technologies coming up at such a massive pace? There is one cause that I could think of. Coming back to the concept of re-invention, many companies before conceptualizing an idea do what is called is ‘prior art search’ to comply with patent laws. Has this idea being invented or used before? This saves lot of time, energy, money, and intellect on working again on the invention already developed by someone else. This approach also helps in filing the gaps and allows the technology to move fast into the market. Assume, if every inventor would have been working on developing Pentium-I processor, we would not have got the privilege to use IBM’s Dual Core or AMD’s Athlon processor (which are at least 10 times faster than Pentium-I) within a span of 10 years.
Thus, I believe that innovation on pre-existing technologies is a good attempt to fill the existing technology gaps, let customers have what they want in time, and prevent re-invention.