Monday, January 26, 2009

Impressions from CES

Serial inventor James Burrell, who got a mention in our January 09 issue, recently returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He's posted his insights from the show, as well as dozens of photo highlights, including the iBot wheelchair from the mind of Dean Kamen (the guy who invented the Segway scooter, among other great innovations).


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Inventor-Friendly Companies Listing

Inventors Digest has unveiled an upgraded and updated list of inventor-friendly companies.

We spent considerable time and staff resources expanding our long-standing list. Some of those listings we culled from elsewhere on the forums at Edison Nation – so a big Thank You goes out to all of those who contributed.

Consider the Inventor-Friendly Company page your one-stop shopping destination for finding a potential fit for your product.

We’ll be updating the site regularly. If you know of a company that should be included, please e-mail us at

Mike Drummond, editor
Inventors Digest

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


There were many elements of President Obama's inauguration address to savor today. One of the moments I particularly enjoyed: "Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished."

I, for one, feel renewed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Is any publicity good publicity?

We're examining this question in an upcoming issue. The idea stems from complaints among some inventors who didn't like the way they were portrayed on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

When I posed the query to a reporter/PR network, I received more than 80 responses ... and counting.

Seems not everyone agrees. Some think exposure on Leno is priceless. Others argue you have to control your message.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 offers bailout for American Inventors

I'm posting this as a favor for our friends at Obvia:

Casualties of the economic downturn might be wondering: Why do the fat cats get bailouts while we're left to fend for ourselves?

We’ve bailed out failed banks, failed insurance companies and failed auto makers. How about bailing out a sector that has never failed?

"Inventors -- all the worker bees who have yet to realize their ideas -- are the source of American ingenuity. Maybe now is the time to cultivate this talent base," said Scott Keeley, who owns OBVIA, a product-development and design company in Rhode Island.

To that end, Keeley has come up with his own idea: he calls it "The Great American Inventor Rescue." Between now and February, his firm will waive its inventor-assistance fees in the development of the next great invention.

The first rule of this competition is meant for the times: the inventor must be among the recently downsized.

Once the inventor submits his or her invention or product idea to OBVIA, OBVIA sends the inventor a nondisclosure agreement.(This is industry talk for a promise to not steal an idea.) OBVIA's engineers and marketers review the entries and pick the winning idea by April 1, 2009.

Submissions are due emailed by midnight on February 28, 2009 to
For more information, see OBVIA's Web site at

U.S. slips in patent ranking

IFI Patent Intelligence released its annual compilation of the world’s top-ranked U.S.-patent companies.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a total of 157,774 utility patents in calendar year 2008, up slightly over 2007’s total of 157,284.

Although IBM still tops the list and is ahead by a relatively wide margin, the scales of patent-quantity supremacy may be shifting away from corporate America in favor of companies overseas, especially to those in Asia.

American companies captured only 49 percent of U.S. patents granted to companies compared to 50 percent in 2007.

The Top 10 patent recipients:

1. IBM 4186
2. SAMSUNG 3515
3. CANON 2114
5. INTEL 1776
7. TOSHIBA 1609
8. FUJITSU 1494
9. SONY CORP 1485
10. HP 1424

Friday, January 9, 2009

Want Your Picture Taken?

New York-based photographer David Friedman is working on a portfolio celebrating independent inventors. Pictured here is Tony Pagoto, inventor of the personal computer wire management system.

“They say that necessity is the mother of invention. I’m interested in the rest of the family,” Friedman writes on his blog. “Of course, everybody gets good ideas, but not everybody writes them down before they’re forgotten. And fewer still actually take their ideas to the next level. With this photo series, I’m exploring who those people are.”

Inventors Digest is proud to announce we will be featuring David in an upcoming issue.

If you’re interested in having David include you in his growing body of work, please contact him. By all means, let him know that you heard about him here.
David Friedman Photography

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jack-in-the-Box Thinks Inside the Box

So, this is lame. I recently took my wife and daughter to the Jack-in-the-Box near my house (that’s not the lame part).

The poor fidelity of the drive-thru speaker, the voice-response delay and the heavy, rich Indian accent made it nearly impossible for me to understand what the person at the other end of the order-taking line was saying.

Again, that’s not the lame part. I deal with folks with Indian accents all the time.

But this Jack-in-the-Box, and many like it, has outsourced its order-taking.

That, friends, is the lame part.

I chatted up the person at the window fulfilling the order. Odd that you’d outsource order-taking at a fast-food joint. She rolled her eyes, said everyone's complaining, and added that the company taking the orders is based in Texas and the decision to outsource the role of “you want fries with that?” came from corporate.

I complained on the company’s Web site that outsourcing this duty is irresponsible, given soaring domestic unemployment and the woeful state of the economy.

Jack-in-the-Box called me back. A guy named Bradley says corporate made the decision to outsource order-taking at some restaurants as a “labor savings and to streamline order taking.”

Bradley says the outsourcer is a Texas company called Bronco and all its employees are based in the U.S.

I suspect Bradley isn’t telling the truth or that Bronco isn’t being fully upfront with Jack. My wife and daughter say every time they’ve ordered drive thru at this Jack-in-the-Box, they’ve confronted someone with a sweet, sing-song Indian accent. Is it possible that all of Bronco’s employees are of Indian decent and live in Texas?

Bradley offered me a free meal.

I declined.