"Flash of Genius" movie

Unless you had a double acting fuel pump which gave vacuum for the wipers as well as pumping fuel. Common on the last Chevies to use vac wipers, as well as some AMC cars.
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Reply to
clare at snyder dot ontario do
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Oh! I never encountered such a situation. It seems logical that they'd want to fairly compensate you for your time if they really want your willing help and counsel ... but lawyers do have their own peculiar sort of logic.
In my case, such activities were just another work assignment and part of the job.
I've had many people tell me that. I still occasionally see some of the good people I worked with. I'm very glad I was able to bug out when I did. I'd certainly be better off financially if I'd worked another 8 years to age 65, but I've never once regretted retiring when I did. All ya need is "enough", right?
Reply to
Don Foreman
I've invented 100's of things in my life. It's what most good engineers do just as part of their job. Nothing has been stolen from me.
It's not the movie I'm ranting about. It's the idea that something so trivial would be given so much attention and that the guy who says he "invented it" felt he deserved so much for so little.
However, I just saw a longer trailer for the movie today which implied all the auto companies were "working on the problem" at the time, and this guy came up with some unique solution. I really don't have the faintest idea why this was a hard problem to solve, but maybe there was something to it I just don't yet know. Even without power electronics to control the motor you just activate each cycle with a relay that included an R/C delay circuit and a transitor to drive the relay. If the transistor wasn't viable because of cost or reliability in 1962, use a small timer motor which has cam closing the contacts to activate each cycle. This is trivial stuff for 1960.
The idea that the such a device would be useful is likewise trivial. When you find yourself having to turn the wipers on and off every few seconds because of a light drizzle, it becomes obvious almost instantly to any good inventor that the car should be turning it on and off for you. The only question about this invention (which is the real question about 99% of all inventions) is at which point does the market develop for it. That is, when does it become cheap enough, and reliable enough, that the customer will be willing to pay what it costs to be included? But that is not an engineering question, it's just standard marketing question answered by a little bit of insight combined with market research. It's just normal day to day engineering and development work.
There are engineering ideas that are once in a life time types of inventions that deserve special attention and wealth to the creator. And maybe, there is something about this guy's solution that deserves such attention. I just don't see it yet. I will no doubt see the move when it comes out (I see most the big movies) so I'll find out if if there is something I'm failing to understand when I see it.
I use them all the time. They are extremely useful. But it wasn't a big invention that resulted from a stroke of genus. They come under the classification of stuff I consider obvious. I'm not sure (it was a long time ago and I was in grade school), but I'm fairly sure it's one of the millions of things I thought up before I heard they existed. It's just obvious engineering.
Some things that I didn't think up and which are really cool, include the invention of the www. I was working in that area, and knew about all the issues, and problems, but yet, the particular combination of a text server with embedded hyper link tags in the pages to allow for embedded click-able links in the pages was a stroke of genus. I'd played with the Mac hypercard application, and I'd used ftp servers and gopher and the like to find data on the internet. And I even personally owned a NeXT at the time the www was invented on a NeXT and I had written internet server applications. But it never occurred to me to put those technologies together in that combination. But, it was one of those things that 30 seconds after looking at it, you instantly knew you are looking at something that is going to change the world.
There are many inventions like that which are just so much thinking out of the box, and so cool, and so simple, and so powerful, that the person who first creates it deserves to have their name go down in history. But interment windshield wipers aren't one of those. They are a weeks worth of work for any junior engineer.
If there is something behind this story which irritates me, it's the patent system and intellectual property rights in general. I think it's good that a company can invest big R&D dollars and feel safe in being able to recoup their investment with the help of intellectual property laws preventing other combines from copying there ideas and profiting from the research they didn't pay for. But what irritates me, are the squatters who take advantage of the system by simply patenting every obvious idea they can dream up, 5 years before the obvious idea becomes practical in the market place. So when the market develops to the point that it's time to do the weeks worth of engineering to put that interment feature on the wipers, you find some idiot filled a patent for the obvious idea 5 years ago and now he thinks you should pay in 10 million dollars for this "invention". In fact, he didn't invent anything and invested almost nothing in his R&D effort. He was just an intellectual property speculator.
I have to wonder if the true story about this math teacher who "invented" the "interment wiper" was just someone who thought he had invented something big, when in fact he hadn't done anything substantial at all, and was ignored by the auto industry because of the fact they didn't think he had done anything worthy of reward. But then, using intellectual property law, he forced their hand and made them pay out just to keep from looking like the big bad auto industry had "stolen" this guy's "great idea".
But maybe I'm wrong, and maybe his solution wasn't obvious and was a great idea. I'm looking forward to finding out more when the movie comes out.
Reply to
Curt Welch
That's a good issue that your talking about. I could have sworn it was lemlson that had this issue with the wipers. But anyhow, I had hear talk of his 500 patents as such as your talking about.
Guess I'm wrong about who fought so long about that particular patent, but I seem recall that one has to pursue the creation. Just doesn't seem right to just dream up things and patent them and shelf them after some dead end sales and keep going up to 500 and end up suing to get $.
I've got a number of them in my head, but just can't find the right people to trust to move them forward. One I thought up has still not been done after 15 years. It has become obvious to me with the rate of technology, but haven't seen a peep so far. Anyhow the way it occurred to me it was way beyond obvious. I would like to say how, but I'm waiting for it to come out or till I start making them. Now that I think of it again, it was initially targeted as automotive.
On another note from other parts of this thread is that my last job they wanted me to sign papers for inventions they wanted me to create and I told it up the administration lines to not even bring me the papers or I'd walk.
One to throw out there is inline skates, that's a cool idea. I had thought of that from ice skating, but at 13 couldn't come up with a way to make support on both sides of the wheels. Sure , it is obvious after seeing a pair.
Reply to
Sunworshipper
My dad put intermittent and variable speed wipers on our 57 wagon. It was named "Herbert". It had a toggle switch (mil spec) and Potentiometer
He had to take that off and the vacuum tube Dwell toy for better millage. And the radar dish on the front grill. speed detector on the radar gun.
Martin
Martin H. Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net TSRA, Endowed; NRA LOH & Patron Member, Golden Eagle, Patriot's Medal. NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member.
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Tom Gardner wrote:
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Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn
On 29 Sep 2008 00:20:42 GMT, the infamous snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) scrawled the following:
--big snips throughout--
Ah, that says a lot. You have a totally different mindset than he did. My grandfather was more like you, in that he gave his idea for a specialized ophthalmoscope to the AOA and didn't want anything for it.
I see that I tend to give more sway to the inventors than you do. I'll see the movie, too.
It wasn't at the time, and nobody had exploited their ideas into a product. Why isn't that "extremely useful" product worth a patent to you? Interesting.
Yeah, the patent world is absolutely nuts right now. Whatta crock!
"Interment"?!? It wipes the dead bodies or something?
Ditto.
Ciao!
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
Reply to
Larry Jaques
Yeah, I agree 100% with your statement about Genius. But I'm quickly approaching the belief that the patent office and intellectual property laws might be doing more damage than good in this age. Copyright and trademark registration is fine, but when we try to patent inventions, the claims start to become too abstract and to far reaching at which time the patents stop working for us by protecting R&D investments and work against us by creating nothing more than intellectual property squatters and speculators trying to out guess the markets and benefit from a gamble that has zero social value. If they are right, they get free money for making a guess that has no benefit to society other than in making them richer. If they are wrong they lose, but society also loses because resources are wasted on registering patents that have no social value.
Most the payback companies receive from being the first to invent something comes from the fact that they get to be first to market. No matter how fast the competition is, there's always a delay as the competition reverse engineers and tries to catch up which gives the guy first to market a short term monopoly which is their reward for doing the research and for investing their research dollars in the right place, at the right time. First to market advantage alone with trade secrete production offers most of the good of the patent system with zero overhead and cost and with none of the bad side effects that the patent system creates. It's hard to evaluate all the costs, but patents are looking questionable to me.
Reply to
Curt Welch
Well, I was not going to spend time actually doing the research to see what the movie was about, but since you made it so damn easy, I had to look. :)
With a quick look, I see he was using transistors with an R/C circuit to create the timer. Oh, yeah, no one would have thought of that.
In patent 3,351,836 (the first one listed in the Wikipedia article) figure 5 even has an error in it as far as I can see. The I and C contacts are switched for the L/C timing circuit which drives the transistors and creates the timing circuit. But that was just one of multiple examples and the other examples seemed correct. (and maybe I'm wrong - I did only spend 2 minutes looking at it).
None of that is anything but obvious engineering work and as far as I can tell, the entire patent dispute was a famous case debating exactly that - i.e., where should the line be drawn between "obvious engineering" and "original idea"?
It is clear from looking at the patent that he spent time doing the engineering work and turning the idea into a workable design. But still, it's just obvious engineering work and not anything like a "stroke of genius" in my book. NO way in hell he deserved multiple billions of dollars for what was probably only a few years of engineering work. He deserved to be paid a salary for a few years of work if, and only if, he could find someone willing to buy his work - which it seems he couldn't, in which case he should have lost his entire investment for doing engineering work that no on wanted at the time.
This is exactly the type of case in my book that shows we should shut the patent system down.
Still, I bet it will be an interesting movie....
Reply to
Curt Welch
When was this? Before the 1964 patent or after?
"Mart> My dad put intermittent and variable speed wipers on our 57 wagon.
Reply to
Curt Welch
(...)
All a patent does is give one the right to sue an infringer. It doesn't supply the team of lawyers or the awe-inspiring bankroll or the decades of time necessary to mount a credible challenge to a large corporation.
In my limited experience, large companies simply infringe with impunity. Everyone in the legal community is well aware who owns them so paying a lawyer for such is just an exercise in futility.
I don't know which planet is structured so that the intellectual property claimed by individuals is honored by *any* group. It ain't this one.
Robert Kearns was fortunate to live in a kinder, simpler age before large corporations changed their business model to resemble that of La Cosa Nostra. Once upon a time, companies actually were concerned about their public image.
Now you can tell where the loyal opposition used to be.
Just look for the smoking hole.
--Winston
Reply to
Winston
On 29 Sep 2008 04:55:54 GMT, the infamous snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) scrawled the following:
To _you_, _now_, sure. If it was so obvious, Curt, why didn't _you_ invent it back then? ;)
How obvious was it back then? In the _automotive_ industry, not the electronics industry?
Hindsight is 20/20. 'nuf said.
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
Reply to
Larry Jaques
Way before. We were overseas by 64. I woke up to JFK on the Shortwave.
Martin
Martin H. Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net TSRA, Endowed; NRA LOH & Patron Member, Golden Eagle, Patriot's Medal. NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member.
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Curt Welch wrote:
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Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn
My Lumina APV started having intermittent everything at about thirteen years of age (not a puberty thing), one of the problems of composite body construction, ended up running a lot of ground wires. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
Reply to
Gerald Miller

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