Sunday, December 17, 2006

Jackson contacted a Pittsburgh invention promotion company in 1996

The Chicago Sun-Times added another fact in the McKenna - Jackson saga:

In 1996, six years before seeking advice from West Loop attorney Michael McKenna, would-be portable toilet inventor Joe Jackson sent away for a package from a Pittsburgh invention promotion company.

Ten years later, with no takers for his truck toilet, an armed Jackson burst into McKenna's office and, believing his idea had been stolen, killed McKenna and two others before police shot him to death. The McKenna family says there's no truth to Jackson's theft claim.

The Sun-Times continued:

"I tell people that it's probably less than one in 100 who are going to make money on an invention," said Chris Bischoff, an Evanston attorney who specializes in patents, copyrights and trademarks.

Once a week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues about 3,000 new patents, and perhaps 100 of those will lead to sales of any kind, says Robert Fieseler, a Chicago patent lawyer.

Attorneys tread a fine line between being upfront with clients and killing their dreams.

"If everyone took a negative attitude, if they said, 'It's too hard, or it will take too long,' then where would our society be?" said Paul Juettner, another patent attorney. "Then Thomas Edison wouldn't have done the things he did -- or the Wright brothers."

IPBiz notes that the Wright Brothers wrote their own patent application, months BEFORE the flight at Kitty Hawk in December 1903. Edison didn't invent the light bulb; he improved upon already existing technology AND he bought the rights of the previous patent holder.

On promoting innovation, look here.

A blog, MyShingle , noted the following about the Sun-Times story:

In patent law, as in other fields, attorneys must act as the bearers of bad news, the ones who put a damper on expectations. It's probably one of the worst parts of being an attorney, but if we don't occasionally tell our clients "no," or at least ask them to consider a variety of different options, who will?

All true, but that may not be the ENTIRE scope of the Jackson - McKenna incident.

The Chicago Tribune had previously reported:

-->George Jackson remembers his uncle's excitement about the prospect of marketing his invention and telling him that the lawyer said he'd call back in six weeks.

After six weeks came and went, he called again and was told "his idea wouldn't fly."

Later, George Jackson said his uncle saw a similar invention being sold on the Internet and became convinced the attorney to whom he had given his savings had patented his idea without giving him credit.<--


Sparks said Jackson told him the lawyer had discovered a patent under the name of a woman the lawyer believed was related to the attorney Jackson was suing. The patent, for an invention similar to Jackson's truck toilet, was obtained a few days after Jackson's first meeting with the patent attorney, Sparks said.

IPBiz notes that what may have bothered Jackson are events that happened AFTER the bad news given to Jackson by McKenna in March 2002.

In passing, note there was a famous IP case involving portable toilets: Carson v. Here's Johnny Portable Toilets, Inc., 698 F.2d 831 (6th Cir. 1983) wherein Johnny Carson sought damages and an injunction against Here's Johnny Portable Toilets, Inc., from using the phrase, "Here's Johnny" as a corporate name in connection with the sale or rental of portable toilets. The defendant indicated that he coupled the hrase, "Here 's Johnny," with a second phrase, "The World's Foremost Commodian."


Office Rampage: 1 Year Later

Toilet Invention?


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