The Tennessee Inventors Association became a smaller group last week. On October 25, 2012, Igor Alexeff passed away. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1931, Igor left this world too soon.
I met Igor when I first joined the TIA seven years ago. When I walked in the door at that meeting, he was there to great me and everyone else that showed up. With his wild hair and his Russian features, he reminded me of the stereotypical mad scientist. But his looks were deceiving. He was brilliant and quite sane.
At Igor's funeral, I had the good fortune to read the eulogy prepared by Ted Anderson. Ted was a colleague and friend of Igor. Unfortunately, the Frankenstorm that hit the East Coast prevented Ted from making the trip from Massachusetts to Oak Ridge. With Ted's permission, I reproduce the eulogy below.
On Friday, September 16, 2011, President Obama signed the Patent Reform Act. The changes to the patent laws will have a major impact on inventors. Few in the academic world understand how the changes will impact independent inventors and small businesses. Unfortunately, I fail to see how the America Invents Act will create any jobs in America. The Act creates a disincentive for small businesses to innovate. So, who will create the jobs? The big corporations that lobbied for the Act?
The patent reform working its way through Congress may be stalled. Early this year, the Senate passed S.23. On June 23, 2011, the House passed H.R. 1249. The House Bill differed from the Senate Bill in several aspects. The Senate and House versions must be reconciled before patent reform can become law.
The current credit limit crisis in Washington will divert attention from the patent reform bill. It may be sometime this Fall before Congress revisits the patent reform bill. There are several aspects about the current parent reform bill that work against independent inventors.
The great American dream is to invent something that will make you rich. Unfortunately, there are companies that thrive on scamming the dreamers. We may dream, but there is no quick way to riches. Coming up with an idea is easy. The difficult part is commercializing the invention.
One company that was notorious for scamming inventors was Davison Associates Inc. out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2006 Davison Associates Inc. lost a lawsuit and were required to pay $26 million to inventors. There are other companies who work hard at separating inventors' money from their wallets. That is not to say that there are not legitimate companies that will help inventors, but, as always, the buyer must beware.
Inventors invent. But, what to do after inventing? A common question asked by inventors is "what is the next step?"
The next step after inventing is to determine the commercial feasibility of the invention. It is a rare inventor who is capable of objectively evaluating an invention to determine if it is commercially feasible. Inventors are optimistic and believe that everyone will want their invention. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
SCORE sent an announcement of an upcoming workshop of interest to inventors and entrepreneurs. A Community & Patriot Express Workshop is scheduled for 5pm on May 18 at the Knox Central Building. Attendees are encouraged to apply for an SBA Community Express Loan at the workshop. Contact Terry Burns at 865-215-5752. The workshop is sponsored by the Knox County Supplier Diversity Program, State of Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (BERO) and Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.
The TIA is sponsoring a new program in 2010. The program is A to Z of Inventing. We will be following an idea from conception through commercialization. We will focus on the various steps and different aspects of the process.
The first thing every inventor does is come up with an idea. There may be some problem that needs to be solved. Something may just aggravate the inventor. Where ever it springs from, every invention starts with an idea. The idea grows, often like a fast growing plant. The inventor, like a master gardener, nurtures the idea and develops it into something that works, something that really solves a problem.
Many small businesses are encountering difficulty in obtaining financing to grow their business. A new program sponsored by the State of Tennessee may offer a new source of capital. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development recently announced the launch of TNInvestCo, a funding program created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2009 as part of a broad strategy to nurture entrepreneurship in the state and to jump start job creation in sectors of the economy with high growth potential. Its goals are to develop Tennessee's entrepreneurial infrastructure, to bring additional capital into the state, to diversify the state's economy and to create "anchors" or "clusters" of business innovation which can result in new companies being created or spun off and new talent being attracted to Tennessee.