The Inventors' Bill of Rights

by Harold A. Meyer, III

When in the course of human events and commerce it becomes apparent that there is inadequate respect for inventors, a declaration to the world is necessary. 

Inventors get shunned and mocked by industry. Prospective licensee companies "low ball" an inventor with a percent and a half royalty offer. Big corporations license an inventor's work and then sit on it, fearing that the inventor' s great new product will undermine sales of the crummy one they have been selling for years. A big company has an employee who comes up with an idea for a breathtaking new technology which earns the parent company millions of dollars; the inventor gets nothing Ford Motor Company's standard submission agreement unconscionably calls for an inventor to permanently waive the right to sue Ford for any reason, ever. Invention scam companies prey on an inventor's desires to be successful, and, by fraudulently bleeding a nascent inventor of assets, actually sour and worsen an inventor's chance for success. Government makes adverse laws, regulations and decisions without any input from independent inventors. Government taxes inventors with fees to the point of abandonment from the financial unworkability of the startup.

These many negative forces combine synergistically to seriously discourage and retard innovation.

ENOUGH! We inventors hold these truths to be self evident, that all small entity inventors are not created equal, but are setup up unfairly by their creator, the government. We herewith proclaim our national significance and importance, even our necessity. The servitude and indenture to big business and big government is overt What better time to declare our independence and value than NOW! Inventors are critical to the economic health of our nation, pure and simple. But inventors have long been treated as less than key in the process. How did Intel become the #1 chip maker? Simple, through multi billion dollar R&D budgets and INVENTIVENESS. How did Hewlett-Packard come to dominate the multi billion dollar laser printer business? Again, through dozens of patents and INNOVATION.

These success stories should be models for the government to reflect on, to lean back in their big padded leather chairs, to gaze out over the beltway and the Potomac River and to scratch their heads as they ponder how to increase the power of inventors. After reflection, if they are not able to immediately see the benefits of increasing the economic and social capital made available to help inventors, here are a few suggested reasons for its meaningfulness:

  1. We give the national economy its ability to have proprietary products made here and cause foreign capital to flow to the USA and thereby help the balance of trade.
  2. We give the employer its vital products to manufacture and sell.
  3. We give other employees the necessary products to make in exchange for paychecks
  4. We solve specific problems We make the world LESS EXPENSIVE, CLEANER, SAFER, FASTER, QUIETER, MORE EFFICIENT, MORE FUN, and BETTER!
  5. We give the government its essential revenue from sales taxes, income taxes and other taxes.
Consequently, we DEMAND:
  1. NOT to be taxed to death by the PTO filing fees, maintenance fees and other PTO FEES (the "INNOVATION TAXES"). All "small entity" inventors are not created equal. Due to a loophole, a true individual small entity inventor pays the SAME "small entity" PTO filing and maintenance fees as MAMMOTH "non-profit" institutions such as Harvard University which boasts a $6.2 BILLION endowment!
  2. NOT to be defrauded by all the phony "invention submission" "invention promotion" and "invention development" companies. We will fight back. Attorney Rick Martin in Longmont Colorado is leading the charge in a class action lawsuit against one ofthe worst offenders, AIC/ AIRD of Westfield, MA. ISC previously paid out over $1.2 million in consumer redress. Bob Lougher of Inventors' Awareness Group in West Springfield, MA is educating inventors about the scams.
  3. NOT to be unfairly compensated by employers. As it stands now, an inventor who invents something in the workplace loses the rights to his invention due to "shop rights" of the employer. WE DEMAND new legislation which will guarantee an inventor a minimum royalty of 2-3% for the value or profits created by his/her inventiveness for the employer. The old pat on the back and the 0% royalty from the big corporation isn't working any longer The standard barely legal contractual $1 plus "good and valuable consideration" is not good and valuable, it's a strongarm.
  4. NATIONAL representation of true small entity independent inventors on all legislative matters dealing with issues that affect inventors. The US Congress, US Department of Commerce, US PTO and other agencies must be bound to give independent inventors a representation. Right now, the large corporations have their lobbyists and the small entity independent inventors have ZILCH. The only sure fire way this will work is to have a law which mandates small entity representation.
  5. NOT to be stereotyped. We are NOT all: deluded, crazy, old, naive, without business sense, ripe for being taken advantage of, etc. All of us do NOT have frizzy white hair, operate on human subjects or periodically blow up our laboratories with our arching electrodes. Many our products are workable, needed, reasonable--EVEN EXCELLENT and MARKETABLE-- and our products have as many different qualities as we possess as individuals.
Just because our product is new and different, doesn't necessarily mean it is not practical or not viable. We are not a cog on the wheel, we are the reason the wheel is there in the first place. Please give us the dignity, respect and fairness that we deserve. Thank you.

©7/1996 by the author

(This article was quoted in part in the Dec. 1996 issue of IEEE's Institute magazine.This article also appeared in Inventor's Digest magazine Nov./ Dec. 1996)
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Harold A. Meyer, III, 36, is Chairman of The Hook Appropriate Technology, a performance based licensing, marketing and new product development company. Meyer is past President of the non-profit group, THE INNOVATORS Guild of Danbury, CT. He can be reached at: The Hook Appropriate Technology, 52 Bank Street, Suite A, New Milford, CT, 06776-2706 USA.  EMAIL: info@thehooktek.com, WEB: www.thehooktek.com 

 

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