In Brief Sun Rises in East; Pope Still Catholic July 1, 2010 Waldo Jaquith 6 Comments Local man receives patent, NBC 29 tells us. One of just…uh…4.5 million.
6 thoughts on “Sun Rises in East; Pope Still Catholic”
But Waldo, he invented the orange! Accolades are long overdue!
Actually I was interested in this article just because it informed me about the patent process. For some reason, I’d assumed that you had to be able to build a device before you could patent it. I can now think of a whole bunch of my ideas that I wish I’d patented, but I never considered it because I have no access to the materials to build such things.
Besides, I love oranges… Breakfast wouldn’t be the same without them! ’bout time someone got credit.
I believe if you recalled a bit of elementary school math, you would be 10x more impressed by this man’s accomplishment.
4548072, or 4,548,072, is actually 4.5 million.
But, even if it were 45 million, it would still be newsworthy. After all, it was just a man and his lawyer. I would hazard a guess that the *far* majority of patents are issued to large corporations with teams of lawyers.
Oh, I’m not saying it’s without merit. :) Just that the nut isn’t really news.
Well, that’s not a problem of math so much as comma placement. ;) Yes, clearly I misread that, and I’ve fixed it. An order of magnitude is rather a large difference. While it’s swell that this guy got a patent, I wonder if NBC-29 intends to report on every patent granted to somebody in Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. 1,073 patents were granted to Virginians last year alone. (Or is that one million? ;) If NBC-29’s viewing area consists of the Charlottesville and Staunton MSAs, that’s a population of 300k that they’re covering, or about 4% of the state’s population. Assuming that patents are issued proportional to population (not necessarily a safe bet—I’m guessing we skew high, what with UVA), that’s a patent granted every week to ten days. I’m betting that every single one of those inventors would love to see that invention covered by the press. A great invention is news. A patent is not. That’s a totally routine event.
And, no, it’s not impressive that a patent lawyer got something patented. That’s what they do. :)
I’m not as impressed.with the patent lawyer as I am with the individual. If you remove U.Va. And other universities and other sizeable entities, then this man is one of a lot smaller population than 1,073. If NBC29 were to focus on individuals, who have zero assistance outside of using their own money to file a patent, then you might get 2 stories a year for the relevant population.
And there’s a HUGE difference between spending your own money to get a patent and letting a university/big business not only picking up the tab, but also handling all the paperwork. A patent is only routine for those latter entities. It’s still a BFD for individuals.
Luckily, the USPTO maintains statistics on what they call “independent inventors” (aka an “individual inventor,” as opposed to those affiliated with businesses). In 2009, 12,562 patents were granted to such people, 266 of which were in Virginia. That means that, on average, one such patent is granted each month to somebody in the NBC-29 viewing area, which is to say that one in four patents granted locally are granted to individual inventors. That’s nearly an order of magnitude more than two stories a year.
But, while the math is amusing, that’s not really my point. There’s simply nothing interesting about getting a patent, any more than getting something copyrighted or trademarked. It’s not news. What’s interesting is the act of inventing something, regardless of whether somebody chooses to get it patented. The hook for a story shouldn’t be “man gets thing patented.” If the invention itself is interesting, and warrants coverage, then they should cover it, and it’s worth mentioning if it has the benefit of protection in the form of a patent. Whether there’s five patents granted here annually or five thousand, the invention itself is the hook and, indeed, the story.
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