Don’t waste your time applying for a patent!
July 4, 2012 in Innovation
Not me that says it. Nobel laureate Andre Geim the discoverer of grapheme, that wonder material only one carbon atom thin.
Writes Geim in the FT on Monday, when he and his colleagues discovered grapheme in 2004 he contacted the representative of a multinational electronics company. The reply?:
“If after 10 years we find grapheme is really as good as it promises, we will put a hundred patent lawyers on it to write a hundred patents a day and you will spend the rest of your life, and the gorse domestic product of your little island (Britain!), suing us.”
Geim writes to point out the futility of the latest common European patent system.
But here’s the story behind the story. Patenting is a multibillion dollar global business. In the Uk 50,000 new patents are lodged each year at a cost from GBP 5,000 to 50,000.
A waste of money says Geim, especially taxpayers’ money if the applications are by university researchers.
Geim’s proposal: Only apply for a patent when there is a clear path to commercial application.
As a marketing professional I sometimes come across individuals with bright ideas that they want to bring to market, with high hopes of becoming fabulously rich. I always feel they would have been better off having sold the invention off to somebody else, take the money and run. The changes of getting rich from you invention is very small.
Geim gives the figure 90% of patents bring no return.
But Schumpeter said it all those years ago: Innovation is about creative destruction – and more often than not it is the inventor who is the wreckage!