Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Prototyping for Inventors: A modern view

A few years ago, I invented a catch-all solution to the problem of storing, carrying and protecting DVDs in an attractive cheap to manufacture, unbreakable case called the "Jemcase"... Sounds like it should be successful right? Nope. What killed it? Mostly industry politics and protectionist economic arguments- Incumbent industries had too much to lose by changing what they were already doing: Churning out the highly breakable, highly scratchable, highly lose-able, high waste "Jewel Case." The jewel case is, unbelievably still selling- a testament to the intransigence of big industry and the willingness of consumers to buy whatever we are offered.

The images below give an idea what the Jemcase was about. The cost of patenting was unbelievable- totally unsustainable for a lone inventor. Patenting is anything but fun. I can't imagine ever trying to patent anything again. There needs to be a better alternative especially for lone inventors, but big industry won't like that idea!

Above: The Jemcase- a screenshot for a marketing video made by Stephen O'Connell and myself in 2000

The above image shows the Jemcase in use as a desktop stack: Each disk can be removed from the stack without removing the case. Alternatively, each case can be removed from the stack as required.

Finally, the blog post that prompted the above tirade: Click here to access the post about rapid prototyping and a sensible view about patenting. I agree with the views expressed here: Patenting needs to be examined carefully for advantages/ disadvantages before committing lots of money and huge resources. My view: Life's too short to patent things. Perhaps the best way to get a product to market is don't patent anything- just offer your first product for free and allocate rewards to collaborators. Let the cheapest producer in the world put it into production. Use the new product as a marketing tool for yourself. You can easily prove that you were the one who came up with the concept.... Just an idea...

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