I am an inventor. Not an artist, sculptor, writer, singer or composer. My thoughts confined to paper are not something I can sell by the thousand to an admiring audience. The thrills of discovery are ethereal and ephemeral and not something to hang on a wall, or listen to of a quiet night at home with some friends. My thoughts are; however, the bedrock of a free society that thrives upon the countless goods and services stemming from those dust swirls of momentary idealistic creativity called inventions.
We look into the future, not the past. Have no need for the instant gratification of a wet canvas. We rely on many others for the sublimation of the initial idea into reality. Try imagining creating… anything and not being able to talk to anyone about it. Have an idea that you know in your heart is good and reliable and worthwhile and that you must bounce off another thinker and risk having that idea stolen, without a single thought. Not even a thank you. New, fresh, inventive thought; is extremely fragile.
Copyright does not protect us; is not designed to. The slightest slip between the thought forming in our heads and the office of the government patent office and the idea is gone, lost, forever not your own. Now, realise that, every idea we get costs money. To file for; to pay the attorney to delineate; to travel for sometimes decades with all the costs of a small business yet never finding anyone that will pay that extra mile to see the idea into production. Never any income, regarded by any banker as a nuisance at best and a malingerer most of the time. Remember, it can be years before we are granted the patent itself. Up to that moment, we have nothing but an idea that “might” be worthwhile developing.
When we at last arrive at the grant of that paper contract called a patent and when all our troubles should be behind us; instead, we now inhabit another even more demanding and dangerous world. Government makes us a part of the industrial might of a nation by granting that patent. And follow that grant by ensuring that we become their slave to a process that demands a regularly increasing payment of maintenance fees, (remember we have no income without exploitation), over its twenty year lifetime.
In that case, surely, government should have a mind to see that these initial seeds of the nation’s future prosperity are protected from the frosts of monopoly and overbearing competition. Instead, we find that government is, on the one hand, completely indifferent to our reality or, on the other, only prepared to sustain us, on a whim, to the smallest extent unless we break our vow, (implicit in the grant of that patent to sustain competition); by walking through the door of an existing competitor.
And just to add insult to injury, they toss their heads in complete indifference to the fact that there is no fully free, free enterprise based, financial marketplace; wherein we should be able to capitalise our new ideas, competitively, against the incumbent industry.
Instead encouraging the short term capitalisation regime of the venture capitalist that only serves to reinforce monopoly through the refusal to entertain investment in the small local business that has an aiming point of long term independence; The utter stupidity that we cannot be permitted to be both free and successful.
The final indignity is to discover the governments’ complicity in keeping the monopoly supplier of yesterday in place rather than accept that thinking has moved on and there is a new game in town. How dare I suggest that I have a better idea? Who is this idiot that thinks beyond their station? We are a Department of Government, how dare they state we are in the wrong?
They are talking about an inventor; arguably, the strongest competitor in a competitive society.
It is a travesty that we are both trammelled by government rules for our own actions and at one and the same time distained by that same institution. No one seems to have given any thought to the long term implications of a refusal on the part of government to protect that inventor. We need protecting, have no other financial means of sustaining a normal family life, raising children, building homes, all the things you take for granted.
Imagine please, take a moment to think about this; you will be expected, yes, expected; to work for decades without any income from your efforts. And no, I am not talking about the hardship everyone goes through to gain an education. That phase lasts until our early twenties. No, I am talking about the rest of your working lives.
No one will sustain you. No banker will lend you money for your efforts to secure that piece of paper called a patent. Look back along your career and think what your life would have been like with no income from your primary work? Dig a trench for the foundations of your new home and a lender sees immediately the onward worth of your efforts. Not so the inventor. Worse still, everyone imagines we will immediately become a millionaire. Surely, there are many examples of such success? The truth is that by far the majority of inventions never see the light of day; are never prototyped, capitalised, or exploited; a veritable wasteland of lost effort, lost lives.
It is an interesting dichotomy that a nation will perceive an inventor sits at the pinnacle of their industrial society, supposedly values their efforts, yet does not recognise any duty to support them. Try imagining being, let us say for example a Supreme Court Judge, performing all the duties, reading all the papers, transcribing all the thoughts related to that occupation while at the same time, on top of your duties; working for 12 hours a day for a pittance and coming home exhausted to your “proper” work. Have you ever regularly worked a 24 hour day? I have had to do just that, at least once a week, every week for years at a time.
Look around you and think how much your life would change without that income you have received every month without fail since you first qualified. Imagine all those years of work without any financial reward for your efforts. Scorned for being poor by every bank manager you have ever met. No money for golf or flying, often not even for a simple home of your own. Constantly scrounging help from friends to keep going forward with your ideas. Importantly, the individual inventor cannot go bankrupt to alleviate their finances as any other entrepreneur can and start again. They would lose the rights to their intellectual property the moment they do that. So that option is totally closed off from them. They are thus often forced into the direst financial circumstances with no way out other than to abandon their chosen profession.
That is the life of the individual inventor today.
We must stop believing in the idea of investment for the few promoting success only at the top of society and government subsistence handouts for the rest.
Only a fully competitive free enterprise based society can succeed; and to achieve that success, everyone must take responsibility and play their part to encourage; those individuals that step forward to try and to succeed, as best they can, within their own communities.
Human competition is the most natural influence and must be encouraged at every level. That is surely the governments’ greatest responsibility?