by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 27th 2008 3:37pm
If you read the angry comments we get from self-proclaimed "inventors" whenever we write about patents around here, you might get the impression from them that if you can't protect your ideas, there's simply no reason to be an inventor. It looks like Johnny Chung Lee is proving that's simply not true. Lee has made plenty of cool things, some of which have garnered plenty of attention: from his Poor Man's Steadycam to his Wii-based interactive whiteboard. But none of his inventions have garnered as much attention as his YouTube video of his headtracking virtual reality system for the Wii, which became a YouTube sensation:
The New York Times now has an article noting all of the ways that Lee has benefited from being so public in revealing all of his inventions. Rather than struggling to get known, he's well known all over the place. Plenty of companies came calling trying to hire him, leading to a job he wanted at Microsoft. And, even when he's giving his ideas away for free, he's making some money on the side. The Poor Man's Steadycam, for example, is available to purchase, and Lee has made a quarter of a million dollars from it -- even though he provides full instructions for anyone who wants to build their own. Patent lawyers may cringe, but it would seem that he's doing quite well actively giving away his ideas, rather than trying to lock them up with patent protection.
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