THE NEW BUSINESS OF PATENT ANNUITIES

Above: Lincoln’s Inn as seen from Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.

Up for today is my Harvard Business School (“the charm school on the Charles”) case study about the industry my Dad created — international patent renewals!

As the 1960s progressed, Dad’s new business quickly subsumed his “normal” patent practice. He did keep working for some select inventors who intrigued him but spent most of his time promoting his new renewal business as a modern, computerized clerical operation.

Corporate patent owners were delighted and sought him out.  On the other hand, foreign patent law firms worldwide were scandalized! The renewal work for them was heretofore easy money; it was a simple annual reminder operation that brought in huge fees for little work. They accused Dad of skimming the cream off their businesses. Many fought back, in some cases by petitioning their local patent offices NOT to accept such payment schedules sent in from foreign offices in New York. However, some savvy patent law offices quietly became clients, preferring to take advantage of the lower fees and passing them along to their clients to curry favor.

KANGAROO COURT

Bernard Olcott (my Dad).  Bob Gerhardt.  John Dennemeyer.  Gerald Van Winter.  Ray Chinnery.  These are the founding fathers of the global Patent Annuity industry in the 1960s and 1970s.  And beyond!

Most everyone credits my Dad with being the first to figure out how patent maintenance fees could be tracked and organized by a computer-managed and calendaring program.

All were known for their strong personalities.  Some say you need to be somewhat difficult and egotistical to overcome the inertia of the status quo and take the business world by storm with a new idea.  Certainly this was true for Steve Jobs but maybe not so much for Bill Gates.  Perhaps personality isn’t everything.

Not to say that Bill lacked a strong character, just that he didn’t have the same reputation for going off the rails.  Maybe his penchant for the pleasantries of networking and interpersonal skills of collaboration was truly the road ahead.  I dunno.  I just report.  You decide.

Putting some of these guys together certainly was a recipe for making fireworks.  Apparently, my Dad and Ray Chinnery didn’t mix so well.  If I ever saw them together, it was during a two week period in London over the summer of 1969.  And that was that.  Never again.

THE NEW BUSINESS OF PATENT ANNUITIES

Above: Lincoln’s Inn as seen from Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.

Up for today is my Harvard Business School (“the charm school on the Charles”) case study about the industry my Dad created — international patent renewals!

As the 1960s progressed, Dad’s new business quickly subsumed his “normal” patent practice. He did keep working for some select inventors who intrigued him but spent most of his time promoting his new renewal business as a modern, computerized clerical operation.

Corporate patent owners were delighted and sought him out.  On the other hand, foreign patent law firms worldwide were scandalized! The renewal work for them was heretofore easy money; it was a simple annual reminder operation that brought in huge fees for little work. They accused Dad of skimming the cream off their businesses. Many fought back, in some cases by petitioning their local patent offices NOT to accept such payment schedules sent in from foreign offices in New York. However, some savvy patent law offices quietly became clients, preferring to take advantage of the lower fees and passing them along to their clients to curry favor.