As I took my seat behind that wooden desk on the lower level in 1982, I began my training at Olcott International.
As discussed in numerous posts, Olcott International operates in a highly specialized field, one that most people do not understand. My Dad had started his business in 1961 on the back of an advanced (for its time) computer program that could sort patent renewal data.
He offered this service to corporate patent owners that had live dockets of hundreds or thousands of registrations. Most of these required annual payments to maintain their validity. (Patents in the USA follow an extremely odd payment schedule, however). After the 20th year, the patent would come to term and fall into the public domain, meaning that anyone could read the patent, make the thing (whatever it was), and sell it for a buck.
Generally, whenever I met people socially, and the conversation turned to work, describing this computer and legal-driven business quickly became a problem. Most people have professions that can be easily pigeon-holed in simple terms, like “banker,” “teacher,” or “forklift driver.” Not I. In fact, it got so tedious for me to explain what I did for a living, I would typically bail and offer up that I was simply the hostess’ psychiatrist. Sometimes, I would even be asked if I was taking on new patients. I always made sure that I was available only on the most unsuitable night.
There are patents for all kinds of things. Some vital, like certain AIDS medications. Many are frivolous, like weird ribbing patterns on a condom. Most are a waste of money, patented by individuals for products with no commercial potential.
On the other hand, successful corporations, eg. Apple Computer, have dockets comprising thousands of valuable, revenue generating patents. Every one of them worth the $2,000 annual cost of renewal (thereabouts) annually in over 100 countries across this beautiful planet.
So what was the essence of my first job with Olcott International? Patents? No!
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