Monday, May 25, 2009

More output from independent inventors in the bad economy

Alana Semuels has a piece in the LATimes titled: Recession is giving inventors time to fine-tune their ideas. The first sentence has an allusion to Chester Carlson, the inventor of xerography: If we have the Great Depression to thank for inventions such as the Twinkie, Monopoly and the photocopier. One notes from the time of Carlson's first patent to the Xerox 914 in 1959, about 20 years of time elapsed. We have Carlson's persistence to thank for the photocopier.

We have a line in the article that is Dickens translated to the 21st century: That's because some self-starters among the ranks of the unemployed, sick of trudging off to job fairs and sending out resumes, are starting businesses to finally launch that invention they've been mulling over for years.

Inventors Alliance gets a mention: "This fluctuation happens every time there's a dip in the economy," said Andrew Krauss, president of the Silicon Valley-based Inventors Alliance, which holds monthly meetings at which inventors share ideas and learn how to patent products. "But it's doubled lately -- I've never seen so many people at our meetings."

The diminishing number of patent applications is noted: The number of patent and trademark filings in 2009 is lagging 2% behind last year because major corporations, which generate the vast majority, are cutting back, according to a spokeswoman from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

But in one indication of increased activity, membership in the United Inventors Assn., a nonprofit education and support group, has grown 20% in the last six months, said its executive director, Patrick Raymond.

Inventors in states including Michigan and New York have created six local clubs in the last year, Raymond said.

"Interest in inventing is high, and our membership is growing in the middle of a recession," he said.

Invention is portrayed as preferable to flipping houses: Dina Beauvais of Phoenix spent 22 years buying, fixing up and selling houses. But after flipping one in August, she decided that the market was imploding and vowed to try her hand at inventing.


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