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Submission + - why space suits matter (1place.com.au)

AnyPerson writes: "Why do space suits matter for inventors or entrepreneurs wanting to take a product to market?

The process of designing, developing and making space suits matters because it helps teach us something about the way we make decisions.

In terms of decision theory, the process appears to epitomise the “maximising” approach to decision-making strategies – i.e. identifying an “optimal solution” for each of a number of problems before making a decision. Or, so it seems

While there is undoubtedly a very significant amount of work involved in making a space suit, the process can also alternatively be seen as representing a “satisficing” approach to decision making.

The term “satisficing” was coined by social scientist Herbert Simon in 1956 – a combination of “satisfy” and “suffice”. It refers to a decision-making strategy that attempts to identify an adequate solution, rather than an optimal solution – particularly if the costs of the decision-making process itself are taking into account.

What is the difference between an inventor who achieves commercial success and one who doesn’t?

According to the authors the difference is not only to have a well-researched and thought-through invention, and a well-resourced team. The more important key to commercial success seems to be a willingness to launch a product quickly with the view to continual improvement and development thereafter – a satisficing approach, rather than a maximising one. The value of getting to market and starting to generate revenue (and perhaps feedback) cannot be underestimated."


Submission + - What patents have in common with viruses (1place.com.au)

AnyPerson writes: Contagion of ideas: the meme

In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” as a unit or measure of cultural transmission – the process in which ideas, behaviour, style or other aspects of culture spread, “transmit” or self-propagate much in the way that genes propagate in the gene pool.

Malcom Gladwell likens a meme to “an idea that behaves like a virus that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects”: http://www.gladwell.com/tippingpoint/

So, what do patents have to do with memes?

The all-important filing date provides a clue to the answer. This is because patents are ultimately a product of their times. They reflect current cultural beliefs, values and trends – albeit with an eye to the future.

In this sense, patents are a form of meme, replicating and transmitting ideas from one mind to another. The patent system serves as a permanent, carefully maintained record of such ideas.

What cultural messages can patents convey?

We live in the Information Revolution. Our lives are driven by an explosion of information and technologies to improve access to, and the management, analysis and filtering of information. This is reflected by an increasing prevalence of patents for information and communication technologies (ICT). At “street” level, evolving ICT technologies are changing behaviour, with many consumers now owning and using several different internet-connected mobile devices.

The value of owning such patents has not been lost on the big technology companies, with the recent staging of the so-called smartphone patent wars. We witnessed Google’s losing bid in June 2011 for Nortel’s 6,000 patent portfolio. The successful bidder, for $4.5 billion, was a consortium including Apple and Microsoft. Two months later, Google successfully acquired Motorola Mobility and its 17,000 patents for $12.5 billion, making Google a major patent holder in the mobile and networking space: see WSJ.

ICT patents have formed an increasing proportion of the total number of patents filed since the mid 1990s. Interestingly, the OECD reports that the rapidly developing BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have enjoyed double the rate of increase in ICT patents (as a proportion of all patents) as in other OECD countries between 2003 and 2005.

Does this presage emerging dominance of the BRIC economies in the early twenty-first century, while the world’s largest economies falter?

Other trends can be seen by “drilling” into patent records at different times. The wonderful illustrations above come from the fabulously titled patent “Buoyant bulletproof combat uniform” (US 3398406). It was filed 30 December 1965 – during the Vietnam war. The patent sought to address the risk of drowning experienced in World War II, when many servicemen drowned during the invasion of Normandy Beach because they were unable to swim and because of the weight of the equipment they were wearing.

A single patent is not conclusive of any cultural trends. However, it exemplifies timely innovation in an area that is the focus of current collective thought. The patent system is thus a wonderful mechanism for reflecting on cultural trends, providing snapshots of cultural trends and mapping the contagion of ideas.

To paraphrase from Abraham Lincoln (who ranked the patent system as among the three most important developments in history):

“the patent system add[s] the fuel of interest to the fire of genius”.

Comment Better return on investment? (Score 1) 179

There are approximately 16 patents per $100 million spent in Australian publicly funded Research Institutions http://bit.ly/jROW2M. Other nations are not radically different. Therefore, France's concept may give a better return on investment whilst stimulating innovation. The danger is if they act as a Troll to intimidate other nations?

Submission + - Microsoft loses i4i Patent Ca (1place.com.au)

AnyPerson writes: We all love a David vs Goliath story, particularly when it acts as a parable to explain the laws, values and/or morals of society. This David vs Goliath story seems to show how Patent law is clear and Goliaths such as Microsoft cannot assert patent invalidity without providing compelling evidence. This case of MICROSOFT v. i4i was handed down on June 9, 2011 & guess what:
Microsoft argues that the presumption of patent validity was too high and that the "heightened standard of proof dampens innovation by unduly insulating “bad” patents from invalidity challenges"
Sounds like Microsoft was trying it on in this remarkable David vs Goliath story.

Comment These Venture Capitalists get it wrong (Score 2, Interesting) 127

The Slashdot article's Venture Capitalists seem to forget that software patents protect small players more than big plays due to: "... entrepreneurs and small, innovative firms rely more heavily upon the patent system than larger enterprises. Larger companies are said to possess alternative means for achieving a proprietary or property-like interest in a particular technology. For example, trade secrecy, ready access to markets, trademark rights, speed of development, and consumer goodwill may to some degree act as substitutes to the patent system. However, individual inventors and small firms often do not have these mechanisms at their disposal” and “small patenting firms produce 13-14 times more patents per employee as large patenting firms” http://bit.ly/aSnz61

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