Many law-related websites inform you that it is simply vital to register the rights to intellectual property (ideas, inventions), since it is possible that your rights may be infringed, you may lose money or reputation.
But, as the saying goes, you have to try it until you buy it.
We in ООО «DobroZnak» decided to provide you with vivid examples of what happened in cases when people had not taken care to protect their rights or had not fully appreciated their brainchild.
Walter Hunt – the father of a safety pin.
This inventor is credited for inventing the first sewing machine, which utilized a pin with an aperture in its tip. He did not patent this invention in 1834, but Elias Howe patented a rather similar machine 12 years later. In 1849 Hunt came up with a new design for a safety pin made from a single piece of wire, and this time he patented his idea. In order to pay off a debt of 15$? We hold his patent for 400$ to W. R. Grace and Co., which established industrial-scale production of the pin and made a good deal of money on that. In the meanwhile, the talented inventor died in poverty of pneumonia.
John Stith-Pemberton – the father of Coca Cola.
Pemberton participated in the Civil war in the United States, during which he was wounded. At that time, morphine was used to ease pain, and Pemberton became addicted to it, and later tried to rid himself of addiction by using coca. Being a pharmacist, in 1886 he created a remedy based on coca leaves, kola nuts and burnt sugar syrup. The name of the drink also belongs to Pemberton. Coca-Cola contained more than 8 mg of cocaine; the drink was recommended as a medicine to treat dependence on morphine, while having “side effects” like relieving depression and neurasthenia.
In 1888, he sold the invention for $ 1,484 to his business partners and to Eise Candler, who became the sole owner and founder of The Coca Cola Company.
Randy Schuller – the father of Spider-Man.
In 1982, Marvel Comics held a contest for the best suit for a spider-man. The winner was an ordinary guy from Illinois, who won the contest and earned 220$. The spider-man suit has been updated since then, but now it is worn by his adversary – a character Venom. After 25 years, the author of the costume was indignant at the fact that he was never indicated as the author of the costume for Venom.
Harvey Ball – the father of smiley face.
A similar story happened earlier with Ball, a professional artist from the United States, who in 1963 received a commission from the State Mutual Life Assurance Company to create a bright symbol that could be placed as a badge on the clothes of insurance agents. The author drew the image in 15 minutes, for which he received 45$. The insurance company was delighted with the brilliant creation and ordered 15 thousand badges. Soon the whole country began to use them. Ball did not registered his creation as a trademark, and many entrepreneurs took advantage of this and freely sold the smileys. Spain brothers from Philadelphia began to put smileys not only on badges,
but also on T-shirts, caps, mugs, postcards and so on. Franklin Lufranis, a french businessman, registered the smiley as a trademark, incidentally attributing authorship to himself. At first, Ball was ironic about the popularity of his creation, but after smileys began to bring tangible income to everyone but its creator, Ball registered a trademark in the new version, including his initials in it; but the moment was missed, as well as the benefit from such a simple, yet successful invention.
Daisuke Inoue – the father of karaoke.
Daisuke was not a professional engineer; however, his invention is well-known throughout the world. He was a drummer at the Kobe Bar in Japan, where guests liked to sing along with the tunes, so the musicians tried to play to the accompaniment of inebriated guests. Particularly enthusiastic guests even wanted to take musicians with them on business trips to celebrate successful deals. Such practice did not have to establish, in 1971 Daisuke with his friends assembled as many as 11 karaoke machines.
Daisuke himself did not attach any real importance to the invention; he believed that he had not invented anything new, since he had just connected a car stereo system, a case from a public payphone and a coin box. The device was accompanied by a magnetic tape with song recordings, the lyrics were not supposed to be shown at time of invention.
Daisuke did not patent his invention, so other enterprising people could calmly manufacture and sell his invention. Currently, the inventor of karaoke is engaged in selling repellants against cockroaches and rats, who like to settle inside his invention and damage it.
Karlheinz Brandenburg – the father of mp3.
In 1995, Karlheinz Brandenburg, a German physicist from the Fraunhofen Institute, after several years’ time of working and a hundred thousand times of listening Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” song, which was taken as a sample for compression, created the mp3 format. Since Brandenburg created his invention at work, the patent belongs to the Fraunhofen Institute. Instead of money, Brandenburg got world-wide fame and an opportunity to conduct costly research in the laboratory of the Institute. The performer of the song also didn’t come out worse off, and is now called “the mother of mp3”.
Nick Holonyak – the father of the LED.
This invention also belongs to professional physicist Nick Holonyak Jr., who, whilst working at the University of Illinois in 1962, was commissioned by General Electric with developing a light-emitting diode. Initially, the LED cost was quite high, up to 200$ per package, and it was only used in expensive equipment. That was later modified by the pupil of Holonyak, George Krafford, who, at the request of a large chemical company Monstro in 1967, developed a more economically viable version of the first LED. A year later, Monstro established a mass production of LEDs for indicators in calculators, electronic watches and televisions, receiving their dividends. Nevertheless, in 1995, Holonyak was awarded the Japan Prize for his contribution to the development of science. The remuneration amounted to 500,000$, which is undoubtedly less than the dividends that could be received from the use of LEDs, which are used everywhere: in microelectronics, advertising stands, medical equipment and much more.
Stories mentioned in this article do not in any way diminish the achievements of people, whose creations are used by almost everyone, and certainly are not supposed to present these people in
the wrong light. Rather, these stories are presented as vivid representation of how important it is to see the potential of your creation in time, be it a smiley face or mp3, a LED or any other complex technical achievement, and to formalize your rights to it. This is not preformed exclusively to “rake in money”, as this may not happen, but rather in order to prohibit somebody to attribute authorship of your creation.
Note that the term “ООО” used in the context of this article refers to a limited liability company under the laws of Russian Federation.