State of Innovation

Patents and Innovation Economics

Did Edison Invent the Light Bulb?

            It is important to understand what is meant by innovating or inventing and what its properties are before embarking on how to encourage or measure technological innovation.  Innovating is creating something new.  What do we mean by new?  Was the light bulb invented by Edison new?  There were other electric light bulbs before Edison.  Some people suggest that Edison did not really invent the light bulb.  One website states “Contrary to what schools have taught for years, the American icon, Thomas Edison, neither invented the light bulb, nor held the first patent to the modern design of the light bulb.”[1]  Most of Edison’s detractors point to Joseph Wilson Swan as the inventor of the incandescent light bulb.  Swan was an English physicist and chemist and applied for a patent on his light bulb before Edison.  However, Swan’s light bulbs were low resistance light bulbs.  If you tried to setup an electrical power system to power Swan’s light bulbs, it would have required such a large copper conductor as to make the system economically unfeasible.  Edison created the first high resistance light bulb, which made it possible to create a commercially feasible electric light system.  Continue reading

July 20, 2009 Posted by | -History, -Philosophy, Innovation, Patents | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Expanded Adminstrative Challenges to Patent – Good or Bad?

A study commissioned by the Manufacturing Alliance on Patent Policy suggests that expanding the admistrative challenges to patents will:

1. Increase Patent Pendency

2. Significantly increase the cost of defending the validity of patents

and will not increase the quality of patents.  See the full report.

July 20, 2009 Posted by | -Law, Patents | , , , | Leave a comment



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