Monday, March 31, 2008

Trash to Treasure

Imagine transforming stuff from your recycling bin into the next big thing and winning $10,000 for your innovative design.
Design Squad, PBS’s engineering and design competition show, and Intel have joined forces with By Kids For Kids to give young people the opportunity to do just that.
The nationwide Trash to Treasure competition will launch at on April 1 to coincide with the television series’ premiere of season two and will run through June 30.
Fabric, paper, plastic, small electronics, wheels, clamps, springs, batteries, hardware, wood, cardboard … just about anything is fair game.
The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 provided by the Intel Foundation and a trip to the development lab at Continuum, an award-winning international design and innovation consultancy, to build a prototype of his or her Trash to Treasure design.
The Design Squad Trash to Treasure contest will challenge kids of all ages to take everyday discarded or recycled material and re-engineer it into functional products. The product can move things or people, protect the environment or be something kids can play with.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Do Patents Do More Harm Than Good?

Amid the clamor over patent reform, a parallel debate is occurring. The TechDirt blog has an interesting discussion going about whether patents do more harm than good.

Here's blogger Mike Masnick's premise:

"Any given monopoly is going to be bad. There are economic rents associated with a monopoly. It limits the supply available and increases the cost, acting as a deadweight loss to society. That's absolutely true with patents as well (as much of the research has shown). However, there are a few more reasons why patents tend to be a net negative. ..."

It's provocative stuff. Inventors Digest will be featuring Michael Meurer in our June issue. He's co-author of Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk, and will spell out his argument how patents stifle innovation. Stay tuned ....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More on Patent Reform

The proposed patent reform bill is generating more chatter and clatter. Over at Intellectual Property Watch, there’s a post saying, “Legislation for sweeping patent reform in the United States could see Senate floor action as soon as early April.”

Those who claim to be in the know predict the bill will die a quiet death after all is said and done. There may be something to that … even the USPTO has said it can’t support the reform bill “as written.” But it still supports some of the more controversial aspects of the bill, including changing the longstanding first-to-invent provision to first-to-file.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Rudolph!

Rudolph Diesel invented the diesel engine in the 1930s. His birthday is March 18.

He would have been 150 years old this year.
Diesel engines have evolved from rattling, exhaust-belching machines into smoother running ‘green’ alternatives to gasoline engines. Many run on clean vegetable oil-based fuels or “biodiesel.” The folks at VW put the “bug” in my ear to remind us of Rudolph’s birthday … oh, and that the company offers a line of diesel vehicles for consumers. Inventors Digest will showcase alternative energy in May, when it will feature Jay Leno and his biodiesel EcoJet car on the cover. Stay tuned …

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Innovation in the UK

A pair of Scotsmen bagged the Biggart Baillie Innovation Awards, a UK invention contest. One earned it for a new way to de-clutter school desks. The other earned honors for a contact-lens safety apparatus.

Read more about it here.

Meanwhile, Welsh innovators were showcasing their smarts at the Innovation Into Action 2008 event recently. Inventions included a no-drip cap for milk bottles (I guess they still use milk bottles in Wales), and a high-tech navigation system that includes historic and cultural information as drivers pass landmarks.

Read more about the event here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Child Edison?

This just in … the world’s youngest drummer may be the world’s youngest inventor.

Julian Pavone, who at 20-months-old made headlines around the world with his talents as a drummer, has become perhaps the world's youngest inventor at the age of 3. Robert L. Kelly of Detroit metropolitan law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC, has filed an application for Julian's "Abracadabra" Stain Cover-Up which can be used to cover up stains on clothes, paint chips on musical instruments, walls, doors and many other items. Julian's invention consists of a container that he designed as a base drum that holds the needed color of the correction fluid and an applicator designed as a drum stick. Bernadino Pavone, Julian's father, described how his son developed the innovation as follows: "Julian, by accident, made a mark on an old T-shirt I was wearing. He felt bad but told me 'I will fix it.' He got some white out and used it to cover up the spot on the shirt and waved his hand and said 'Abracadabra.'

Full press release here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Kids Can Win $$$$

Been meaning to post this. It's a contest for kids. It's seeking the best business plan. Here's the skinny:

Ephren Taylor II, entrepreneur, speaker and CEO of City Capital Corporation (OTC:CTCC), launched the "2008 National Youth Business Plan" competition. Youth ages 12-15 are eligible to submit an idea for a new business venture. All submissions should include a 10-page business plan, cover page, and letter of reference. Rules, guidelines and additional competition details are available at The contest ends March 21. There is no fee to enter.

Eligible entries for the business plan competition will be reviewed and judged by a panel of business owners and entrepreneurs. The first place winner will receive $1,000, and the winning business plan will be reviewed and critiqued by Taylor, who also will mentor the individual contest winner about becoming an entrepreneur. The second place winner will receive $500, and third place will receive $250. All three winners will receive an autographed copy of Taylor's recently released book, "Creating Success from the Inside Out," which is available online at Completed entries (Business Plan, Cover Page and Reference Letter) should be mailed to: "Ephren Taylor II – 2008 Competition" / P.O. Box 18651 / Raleigh, NC 27619.

"Entrepreneurship can begin at any age," Taylor said. "I committed to my dream at the age of nine, and was a millionaire by the age of 16. I believe in supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of young people, and helping them develop their dreams and visions of today into tomorrow's reality." Always a firm believer in mentoring youth and making a difference in underserved communities, Taylor was recently announced as the national spokesman for the Millionaires in Training ( youth entrepreneurial program headquartered in Raleigh, NC. He was a featured guest on the Montel Williams Show on Wednesday, Dec. 19, where—along with the announcement—he pledged $25,000 to the program.