“Some innovations are best left to die in the ashes of the campfire around which they were conceived”
Ah… here in Canada the long days of summer are upon us, and the mind starts to wander from regular work to things less structured. Things like lounging by the lake or telling tales around a campfire come to mind. Such moments can be very stimulating to the imagination, the birthplace of new ideas, and new directions. Things not yet done, or even invented for that matter. And while there can be many “A-HA!” moments in such settings and surroundings, not all such moments should be acted upon. Some (or perhaps many) such moments are best left to cool in the warmth of the next day’s sun, when a head cleared by several cups of coffee sees the incredible brilliance from the night before through different and perhaps a more practical set of lenses.
All of which brings us to the topic of this blog, which could have many titles, all around the theme of “Innovations that were best left to die in the ashes of the campfire around which they were conceived!”
Anyone who has been dealing with intellectual property for some time has encountered ideas and innovations that have consumed the creator, notwithstanding their apparent lack of merit, or even a market. It is not really for us to judge the worthiness of passionately pursuing an idea, which can include spending sometimes incredible amounts of time, money and energy seeking to protect or monetize a questionable innovation, all the while trying to convince the world that this is truly the greatest thing since sliced bread. These ideas, which I like to call intellectual property trainwrecks, can sometimes be painful to watch.
As a case in point, very early on in my career, a decision came down from the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal entitled “Mr. X v. The Commissioner of Patents” where Mr. X was attempting to register a patent in Canada for a death ray.
Mr. X. and a death ray. Really!?
It’s an actual reported decision, but before even getting to it, one cannot help but be amazed that someone actually called themselves Mr. X, filed a patent application for a death ray, and then fought it all the way from the Canadian Patent Office into the Federal Court and on to the Federal Court of Appeal! The invention was never actually constructed, and the Court of Appeal (in its usual articulate manner) refused to grant the patent, on the basis that the invention, as described, simply would not work. Lucky for us!
In that vein, this is a call to any and all who have encountered such cases, be they unusual, unorthodox or perhaps even completely bizarre.
We would love to hear about any such intellectual property trainwrecks or cases where the innovator and/or the outcome could qualify for the “Unbelievable Silly Innovations Hall of Fame Awards”. We know they are out there, and there is nothing like a first-hand account of how such creative efforts went so far astray. Not to mention how hilarious some of these might be.
So while the more wistful summer season is upon us, please feel free to share with us such moments, so we can all remember to not completely turn off that little voice of reason, as we watch the clouds go by.