Thursday, October 11, 2007

Invention vs. Innovation

IPFrontline currently has a piece by Ogan Gurel titled Innovation and Invention - Similar Words, Different Concepts, which notes

One of the greatest examples of innovation and a case study for how to foster innovation and accelerate development was the IBM PC. As an innovation that changed the nature of the computer industry and society, most will not doubt the innovation and significance of the IBM PC. The history of this is nicely summarized by Tom Hormby.

However, it may not surprise you that the IBM PC at that time did not contain any new inventions. What may surprise you is that the IBM team – under pressure to complete the project in less than 18 months – was under explicit instructions not to invent anything new.

In an earlier piece on IPFrontline, LBE had written:

The patent system is designed to provide incentives to inventors to disclose publicly inventions which are useful, novel, and non-obvious, thereby enhancing the public storehouse of knowledge and hopefully accelerating the rate of improvements to our lives. The deal between the public and the inventor is the exchange of information in return for a right to exclude for a finite time.

One has to focus on the fact that the patent system is about disclosure of inventions. Although such disclosure may impact innovation, invention and innovation are not the same thing. One looks at various comments distinguishing the two.

Edward B. Roberts: The first generalization is: innovation = invention + exploitation. The invention process covers all efforts aimed at creating new ideas and getting them to work. The exploitation process includes all stages of commercial development, application, and transfer.

Peter F. Drucker: Its [innovation's] criterion is not science or technology, but a change in the economic or social environment, a change in the behavior of people as consumers or producers. Innovation creates new wealth or new potential for action rather than mere knowledge.

Gifford Pinchot III: When an invention is done, the second half of innovation begins: turning the idea into a business success.

One will note that Jaffe and Lerner speak of the "innovation wars" and the "rate of innovation," rather than of invention. One has to keep one's eye on the ball. We want a patent system that gives patents to those who have disclosed inventions which are useful, novel, and nonobvious. If the requirements are met, the inventor gets a right to exclude, and enters the free market. The patent system has done its job.

Separately, in 88 JPTOS 1068:

In the book "The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail," Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen does not once use the word patent. "Technology" as defined by Christensen means the processes by which an organization transforms labor, capital, materials, and information into products and services of greater value. Innovation is a change in technology.


Blogger Tubarc said...

It might be useful to read about Theory of Science: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Logics and History of Science.

Usually higher education is giving PhD titles and not teaching about Philosophy of Science, even the Ivy League.

In a daily life you can play football neither using your foot nor a ball but etymology is very important to expressing your ideas when talking about science and technology.

Wicks were invented by Stone Age Man around 70,000 years ago. The Hydrology of oil lamps is just employed by lay people while Hydrogeology/Soil Science that deals with fluids moving on porosity ignores wick/wicking due to the connection with Thermodynamics not important in Hydrological Sciences.

When heat is conducted the analytical way of tracking it in time and space is called Heat/Thermal Conductivity and the US Patent System has around 60,000 patents discussing it. But, when fluids moves Hydraulic Conductivity is mentioned in only about 420 issued patents, but on porosity systems like wick/wicking only in 18 patents. Well, there are 22,000 patents commenting on wick/wicking since lay people are handling Hydrology in the patenting affairs as inventors, patent attorneys, or patent examiners.

The economic success of an invention is very subtle beyond your statement. Toshiba having near 20,000 issued patents in the US is the inventor of flash memory. But, the company did not believe in such invention and licensed it to Samsung, which is the largest manufacturer of flash memories nowadays.

Man invented machineries to replace human work but now it seems more difficult to invent ways to keep human working their muscles for physiological need and body fitness.

Man invented ways to produce excessive food that hunts man at every corner and now it is difficult to invent ways to convince humans that they cannot eat as they are pleased because obesity in the US is around 33% reaching 41% in 2015 according to some predictions.

The most advanced country in the world capable of developing atomic weapons and going to the moon is proving incapable of controlling their own mouths and bellies.

Nature is very subtle in its underlying logical functioning simply because man is an advanced biological machine with very high dependence of environmental conditions existed in the past.

Fruits are good to human health but not that friendly for mega economies to profit while milk is indeed good for newborns when taken from their mothers.

Just keep in mind that what is good for the economy may not be that friendly to human balance with nature.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert said...

See also Professor Wolf on patents.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert said...

See also Tim Lee

10:44 AM  

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