In the German Kite Surf Trophy held on the Baltic Sea early in July, Aaron Jarman on the 13m and 15m Guerilla, was placed 1st in the Expression Session and a solid 2nd in the Freestyle.
An exceptional result considering this is Aaron’s first trip away to Europe and that he was there largely unsupported, struggling to adapt to local conditions and to understand the contest’s format.
Congratulations Aaron, there’s a bright future ahead for you in kitesurfing - and we’ll have the kites for you!- just don’t stop having fun.
Now for the boring other stuff: What do you know about patents?
Want to be depressed?, read on:
Originally monopolies over some product or service granted at the whim of royalty to those in their favour or for a cut of the proceeds (that is, a bribe), patents have evolved into a sort of social contract between inventors and the state. A balance has been struck.
In return for being granted a limited monopoly (maximum of 20 years) on an original invention, the inventor is required to publish a complete description and ensure by way of manufacturing or licensing that sufficient are available to meet public demand.
Without some period of exclusivity, that is if every new thing could immediately be copied by anyone who wished to, inventing is uneconomic. And the rewards for those things that do work have to be high enough to pay for all the attempts that don’t as well.
Countries that don’t have enforceable intellectual property law, do not produce innovations at anything like the rate per capita of countries that do.
Of course, most inventors are driven by obsessive curiosity not by any realistic prospect of making a living, but not having enough for the odd bottle of half decent red can tend to sap perseverance over the long haul. -And of course, the potential fortunes to be made are talked up to keep spouses, supporters and investors on side- but the sad truth is that the total returns to all inventors for all their work is almost certainly less than what they spend, probably less even than their patenting costs.
The first problem is that patents are incredibly expensive to get and maintain. Don’t be fooled by the initial application fee, which gets quoted at the outset- it’s likely to be about 1% of the final total.
The second problem is that they are incredibly expensive to defend. The state grants the patent, but it takes no part in stopping infringers except by way of providing a court system - which you pay for the privilege of using.
The third problem is that originality is no guarantee of making money. Very many new ideas don’t ever find a commercial niche and it’s rarely clear at the beginning, when all the money has to be “invested”, whether something is going to be commercially successful or not.
The fourth problem is that it is never possible to be sure whether some new idea is really original. It’s usually possible to discover if an invention has already been disclosed in some prior patent, but it’s never possible to be sure that it hasn’t been described and published somewhere obscure, but not patented- and this stops a new grant just as surely. Even 5 years after a patent is granted, an earlier disclosure can come to light that will cause the grant to be withdrawn- and they don’t give you your money back!
The fifth problem is that patents piss people off- most people, myself included, get really annoyed when they want to do something but find they are prevented because someone somewhere has a patent on it.
Depressing isn’t it- I wonder if there’s anyone out there still reading this?
Why am I going on about all this then?
Well, I’ve just done it again, that is, pissed everyone off I guess.
It’s a new single line kite, the best I’ve ever done-but I think this with every new design. It is though.
It’ll be worth all the hassles too.
In due course you’ll get to find out what it is.
Ashburton New Zealand, August 1 ’03
PS I’m just off for 6 weeks in Germany Holland and England to fly some kites for a change from weeks of blowing my brain over the arcania of patent specifications (developing the kite itself was easy, only took a few days). See you somewhere.