I read an article this morning about premature innovation and thought what in the world are they talking about, innovation by its very nature occurs or exists before the “customary, correct or assigned” time. Innovations don’t have assigned times when they are invented, or do they? Then I read further and it started to make sense. About 8 years ago on a work detail assignment I had an opportunity to work with the original RFID patent holder—Mario Cardullo who when I met him was the Counselor for Technology Entrepreneurism at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mario is a great guy, a sort of Renaissance man who was granted a patent for his RFID invention in 1973. He formed a company with several interested inventors and was able to test out his invention as an automated toll collection system with the New York Port Authority. Long story short, Mario’s company was never able to capitalize on his RFID patent because while his patent was under protection other companies had been developing and testing similar RFID systems. Shortly after the patent restrictions expired in January of 1990 the concept of the RFID took off. Electronic toll collection systems up and down the New York/Washington, DC corridor were the first to see widespread use of RFID, then came various uses in retail and weapon inventory systems. Today, RFID is everywhere.
But does that mean that Mario’s RFID invention was premature? I don’t think so. I agree with the conclusion of the article on premature innovation that says, “Innovation is about providing the right value in the right solution to the right customers at the right time to solve the right problem.” Which really means that you need to have a strategy, particularly with Intellectual Property and timing is a critical part of that strategy.
To help you with developing an Intellectual Property strategy the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership collaborated with the US Office of Patent and Trademark’s Office of Innovation to create a web-based tool—IP Awareness Assessment Tool. Check it out and see how it might help you assess your knowledge of IP and provide easy access to personalized training resources.