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Invention Is Nothing If There's No Market For It

from the the-myth-of-the-inventor dept

For a while now, we've felt that it's important to distinguish between innovation and invention. Invention is coming up with a new idea. Innovation is the process of successfully taking a new idea to market and continually making it more and more successful. Innovation should be much more important to the economy than invention. You can invent all you want, but if there's no way to successfully create a market for it (whether the market already exists, or you figure out how to create demand for it), then it's really meaningless. That's part of our complaint with the patent system is that it rewards invention more than innovation. Part of the problem, though, is that too many people consider innovation and invention interchangeable terms. On top of that, they mistakenly then assume that patents are a proxy for both invention and innovation. Unfortunately, the end result is articles like the following CNN piece talking up invention shops as if they were driving innovation. While the story focuses on one shop that does create some unique concepts, it lumps them in with notorious patent hoarders, as if they're the same thing. Still, what it comes down to is that anyone can invent stuff. Figuring out how to make those inventions useful and marketable in a way that people want them is what drives our economy forward.

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    Mike (profile), 19 Oct 2006 @ 5:50pm


    If there is no market for an inventions, as you are discussing, then big deal---the patent will not produce any reward. So what do you mean by saying that the patent system rewards invention more than inovation.

    Not quite. The problem is that the patent system then lets the inventor lock up the innovation, making it more expensive. Because the innovator has to pay the inventor even if the inventor couldn't do the actual innovation to make the product useful.

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