Saturday, January 15, 2011

The downsides of public presentations of inventive concepts

EETimes (Glen Chenier ) has an interesting story titled Opportunity knocks; management fails to answer about management ignoring an engineer who came up with a good idea.

There is an instructive sub-text about public presentation of an inventive concept:

At one meeting with Marketing the engineer was asked how long it would take to develop a product. He picked a number out of the air and said “Six months”. “Too long” said Marketing.

With no clear answer, the engineer was allowed to prepare a presentation detailing the test results to promote coaxial cable at the next FDDI X3T9.5 Conference to gauge industry response. Not much happened immediately after that, and the engineer was then assigned to another “me-too” 10 Mb/s Ethernet design. At least that was better than boredom.

Six months after this presentation a small company that continued the research came out with the first CDDI on twisted pair device using some additional and well-thought-out innovations. They were later bought out by a much larger networking company. The concept of CDDI (now evolved to “Copper Data Distributed Interface”) avalanched and was developed into a new PMD standard. Category 5 UTP cable was developed to handle the increased bandwidth. The successful CDDI technology was re-used for 100Base-T Ethernet.

Had the engineer's company secured some IP rights in the engineer's invention BEFORE the presentation a different outcome might have ensued. Here, the engineer's company went bankrupt.

Recall: Lawrence B. Ebert, What the Story of the Invention of the
Transistor Teaches Us About 21st Century Patent Practice,
8 J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. L. 80 (2008).


Post a Comment

<< Home