Big, transformational innovations can often have small beginnings. This year, World Intellectual Property Day is focused on supporting SMEs in taking their ideas to market. To celebrate the creativity, ingenuity and brilliance of innovators around the world, we are showcasing some of the great ideas that turned into global success stories.
At Potter Clarkson we have a clear purpose to create value from innovation and want to support you in turning your ideas in to a commercial success. We have some tools to help, so check out our IP Blueprint for Growth, which explains how to attract and securing funding.
ARE YOU THE NEXT OLE KIRK KRISTIANSEN?
You may be surprised to know that the origins of The Lego Group are found in wooden toys, where Ole Kirk Kristiansen began the business from a small woodworking shop. But often, it is one innovation that sparks another.
It took the arrival of a plastic moulding injection machine at the company in 1947 to see Kristiansen and his son (along with other toy manufacturers) turn their attentions to plastic.
Today, no toy box is complete without LEGO that children (and big kids alike) around the world have come to love.
ARE YOU THE NEXT MARIE VAN BRITTAN BROWN?
Drawing on real-life experience can lead to world-changing inventions. That was certainly the case for Marie Van Brittan Brown who, along with her husband, Albert, an electronics technician, invented the home security system.
Often finding herself alone in their apartment at night while Albert worked long hours, Marie and Albert’s ‘The System’ pioneered the use of video streaming and two-way microphones.
Patented in 1969, this concept for property security has been used in homes and businesses across the world.
ARE YOU THE NEXT SPENCER SILVER OR ART FRY?
Some of the best inventions often happen by accident. This was the case for Spencer Silver and Art Fry, who, while working at 3M, developed a highly innovative ‘low tack’ adhesive in 1968, but struggled to find a use for it.
After Fry became frustrated when he realised he needed a bookmark that would stick to the paper without damaging the pages in his hymn book, the idea for the Post-it® was born.
Officially launched in 1980, it is now available in more than 150 countries across the world.
ARE YOU THE NEXT GARRETT MORGAN?
Innovations are often a solution to a common problem and, after witnessing a carriage accident at a difficult intersection, prolific inventor Garrett Morgan set about trying to make the roads safer.
In 1923, he created a traffic signal with a warning light to alert drivers that they would need to stop – what we now know as the amber light in the three-way traffic light. Prior to this they had only been signals for ‘stop’ and ‘go’.
Morgan acquired patents for his traffic signal in the United States, Britain and Canada, but eventually sold the rights to General Electric for $40,000.
ARE YOU THE NEXT MARGARITA SALAS FALGUERAS?
DNA testing brings valuable new evidence to fields ranging from the life sciences to law enforcement. But it requires sizeable volumes of genetic material to yield trustworthy results. During the 1980s, the techniques used were slow and error-prone, making them unsuitable for application outside of the research laboratory.
Margarita Salas Falgueras led the breakthroughs that have since made DNA testing both quick and reliable across multiple applications from archeology to oncology and forensics.
She established that the phi29 virus could create an enzyme, called phi29 DNA polymerase, that rapidly assembles DNA molecules with fewer than one error in a million base pairs.
Salas filed her initial patent through the Spanish National Research Council and it remains Spain’s most profitable patent ever filed, returning millions in investment for further important research.