ENVIABLE PATENTS

As discussed in the comments section last time, the problem with my Mom’s and Grandmother’s “invention” back in the late 1980s was that it wasn’t an invention. It was just an idea, which cannot be patented.

All patents start with one, of course.

Dog waste on the streets of any big city, like New York, is a very special problem in the summer time, when the city becomes a tropical “paradise,” albeit with world-class dining and entertainment, together with daily bus tours.  Before the “pick up after your pooch” laws were enacted some 15 years ago, the heat could “cook” the waste, rendering the streets virtually unpassable to pedestrians. Except for real New Yorkers, of course!

As one reader, or expert, commented two weeks ago, dog waste will naturally decay into dust. But this process can take weeks, which would seem like centuries to New Yorkers. The public interest is to get rid of it instantly. It would be possible, for example, to torch it with flame throwers, but this could introduce new, stranger, potentially unsafe possibilities.

HEARTBREAKER

July and August 1992 were interesting times at Olcott International.  I was busy coordinating marketing activities with fellow employee Peggy.  My sister Blair also joined the company for a couple of weeks as she was out of college for the summer; I welcomed her company in yet another attempt to curtail or document Dad’s occasional onslaughts of wild behavior.

Like the time in July 1989 out of the blue one morning he assigned at the last minute a “chore” for me: move 25+ heavy (40 pounds each) 3 x 3 stacks of heavy tiles around the family summer house in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island.  It was beyond my ability.  But no matter.  Later that afternoon, he hunted me down at a friend’s house by telephone to tell me I was disinherited.

Dad was like that.  Apparently, it ran in the family.  Remember my Uncle Ed who out of the blue would also assign overbearing tasks to my cousin Billy and berate him if left uncompleted?

But back to Peggy.  She was a good soul who had a lot of previous experience with legal software and easily did her share of (in this case appropriate) heavy lifting in terms of marketing and support.  At the time, Olcott International sold various versions of patent management software, including ones for DOS, Windows, and Mac!  I learned, and trained clients in, all of them.

The Mac version was a real curiosity.  No one else had it!  Apple’s patent department in Cupertino was definitely intrigued; apparently, they were managing their patent data on a Windows platform, much to their and Steve Jobs’ chagrin.

But in the middle of this patent management business drama appeared a man much like Huntington Hartford or Bobby Edwards.  Out of the blue and completely unexpected.

But in this case, Dr. Wilson Greatbatch was the real deal.  An inventor’s inventor.  The man who had created the pacemaker and who was now going to cure AIDS.  What was he doing in the Weehawken, New Jersey offices of Olcott International?