Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Expect a Flood of Competitions As US Tries To Spur Public Inventions

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the ninety-nine-percent-perspiration dept.

Government 75

coondoggie writes "When it comes to stirring the brains of genius, a good competition can bring forward some really great ideas. That's the driving notion behind myriad public competitions, or challenges, as they are often labeled, that will take place in the near future sponsored by the U.S. government. The competitions are increasing by design as part of the $45 billion America Competes Act renewed by Congress last year that gave every federal department and agency the authority to conduct prize competitions, according to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy."

cancel ×

75 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647435)

How much of that will actually be used for competitions?

Re:And... (2)

Sven-Erik (177541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647471)

Probably about one million...

Re:And... (3, Interesting)

syntheticmemory (1232092) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648795)

The rest is reserved for the patent trolls.

Well, okay... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647455)

Is the government going to indemnify me if my invention happens to violate one of the fifty gazillion patents that are already out there?

Re:Well, okay... (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647651)

That's my main concern for something like this too.
You can't shake a stick out there without stepping on a dozen patents owned by corporations with armies of lawyers.

Re:Well, okay... (4, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648687)

It's been that way for a long, long time. FM Radio was not released in the 1930s because RCA had secured the patents on broadcasting, and they desired to protect their existing AM service. They even petitioned the government to provide monoplistic protection.

Re:Well, okay... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39650609)

So you're comparing actual implementation type patents against business process patents applied to software that invalidate multitudes of peoples work without actually having built anything... just having some vague statements on paper? What are you, some sort of fucking astroturfer or a patent troll shill?

Re:Well, okay... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39652277)

Uh..... no. I'm against patent and copy monopolies (except for very very short terms). Those government grants cause more harm than good.

Re:Well, okay... (1)

CondeZer0 (158969) | more than 2 years ago | (#39655593)

> They even petitioned the government to provide monoplistic protection.

That is *precisely* what a patent is: a government granted and enforced monopoly.

Boggles the mind how anyone thinks patents are a good way to encourage innovation, monopolies hate innovation. And patents have a very long track record of being used to keep whole industries from making any progress, from the steam engine to aircrafts.

Re:Well, okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647799)

I couldn't get that far if I wanted to... having seen what it costs just for FCC and UL testing.

Device prototyping... $400. Hour in a chamber for testing... $2,000.

Fuck that.

Re:Well, okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648091)

Of course they will. That's how business operates these days. Fuck innovation, it's all about smashing the competition under a pile of bullshit.

Re:Well, okay... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648655)

You hit the nail on the head, You can't create a product these days without a $50 Million dollar war chest of patents and lawyers. You can hold all of the competitions and provide capital for all of the small manufactures you want but if the patent system isn't reigned most are going to be ground under the heal of some international corporation looking to stifle the compilation or die the death of a thousand cuts from patent trolls looking to pillage every cent they can using the patent system as a pirate ship.

Re:Well, okay... (1)

joeboomer628 (869162) | more than 2 years ago | (#39651805)

Patents and Copyrights were originally conceived to encourage this type of creativity for the good of everyone. How's that working out?

I have a meta-idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647465)

Let's a have a competition competition! The best competition gets funding, and the rest get ignored or picked up by private groups.

"Public inventions" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647501)

They're not public if they're funded by private industry or controlled by an educational institution. Just sayin'.

Re:"Public inventions" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39652163)

If the government would restore the requirement that all publicly-funded work could not belong to a private entity, there would be more public inventions.

First post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647507)

What do I win?

Patent Troll Heaven (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647539)

I imagine a lot of note-taking at these things.

You're not thinking trollish enough. (2)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647591)

You start patenting the ideas NOW. Just as the competition is announced. But you make them ambiguous enough that they can fit almost anything.

And don't forget to also patent the same thing with "on a computer" added.

Re:You're not thinking trollish enough. (5, Funny)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647757)

you will owe me. I have already filed for the process of taking any currently used activity, process, or action and converting said activity to be in use "on a computer". I have also patented the next step of commiting these actions alone or in combination with other actions on linked devices, both using physical connectivity to a network , or wirelessly. Pay up, bitches!

Re:You're not thinking trollish enough. (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647961)

Troll hard.

Re:You're not thinking trollish enough. (2)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648729)

On a computer is passe. It's on a mobile device or using social media now.

Re:Patent Troll Heaven (2)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647713)

I think that's the idea, taxes pay for what ultimately will end up as private profit.

Instead of Education... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647543)

Let the Gladiator games begin!

Re:Instead of Education... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647993)

Mod down? Are slashdot readers seriously that stupid that they don't understand this is just meant to be a replacement for a poor education system? What a sad day when we can't even realize our own stupidity!

Patents Are The Problem (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647561)

If the US government wants to spur innovation and competition, it needs to fix the broken patent system. To see how bad the problem is, one need look no further than the morass of patent litigation that has beset the cell phone industry.

Re:Patents Are The Problem (4, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647593)

No! All we need to do is throw more money at the problem! Money always solves everything!

Re:Patents Are The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647735)

No.. More taxes fixes things.

Re:Patents Are The Problem (1)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647833)

Same thing, really. As a general rule, politicians are going to spend (1+x)*y where x > 0 and y is tax revenue. If you increase taxes by z, you're almost guaranteed to increase spending by somewhere close to (1+x)*z.

Re:Patents Are The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39652935)

Laffer curve

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve

Re:Patents Are The Problem (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648645)

I know the thing that keeps me from inventing some world changing new gizmo is i don't think i can gain anything from it. Maybe if i knew i could win a thousand bucks, i'd do it.

Re:Patents Are The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39652841)

So long as it is other peoples money of course.

Re:Patents Are The Problem (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648373)

If the US government wants to spur innovation and competition, it needs to fix the broken patent system. To see how bad the problem is, one need look no further than the morass of patent litigation that has beset the cell phone industry.

... as opposed to how the cell phone industry was innovating prior to patents, in the 1500s.

Are you sure you're not taking your already-existing animus towards the patent system and using it as a post hoc explanation for everything related to technology?

Re:Patents Are The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39650033)

"Are you sure you're not taking your already-existing animus towards the patent system and using it as a post hoc explanation for everything related to technology?"

Why would I want to invent something cool only to be hauled into court for patent infringement because my invention used a computer or a network to perform some mundane task? I win a $1K prize and a $50K legal bill. No thanks.

Re:Patents Are The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39658817)

AMEN! You won't catch me inventing anything in this country!! Even if it isn't directly covered by an existing patent, all it takes is some judge, paid off under the table, and PrestO-ChangeO my idea is "legally" stolen. No thanks .... I'm fine!

And the other flood of.... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647613)

Patent infringement lawsuits because the patent system is so out of control and most new items "invented" will violate 1 or more patents that should have never been issued.

Re:And the other flood of.... (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39653757)

It's a trap, in this case the patent first legislation simply opens you up to a massive civil suit to regain your invention from favoured corporations who will get first peek at competition entries. Along the lines of, 'Shit that one looks good, don't publish it, pretend it was lost in the mail, while I patent it, let the schmuck spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars in court trying to get back 'MY' patented invention'.

Those competitions had better be pretty bloody public and inventions submitted had better be protected from patent cross-filing, otherwise bugger off.

And In China... (3, Funny)

DroolTwist (1357725) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647617)

... they are having competitions to see who can steal the ideas from our competitions first!

Scam (5, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647669)

This kind of thing is a scam. Hold a contest for ideas, pay for only the best idea, and then you can use any of the losing ideas you want for free. It's not a "contest", it's an end run around labor laws.

Re:Scam (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649435)

Generally it's the teams who spend over and above the prize money who win anyway ...

Re:Scam (1)

cmorriss (471077) | more than 2 years ago | (#39651419)

Hmm, kind of reminds me of this:

http://www.atari.com/pongdeveloperchallenge [atari.com]

I read through the rules. It's nothing short of slave labor. They pay for only a few submissions and according to the rules every submission whether it wins or not is completely owned by Atari with all rights and copyrights included.

Oh and the "prizes" for the winners are only actually potential prizes. The actual amount paid is based on a percentage of the revenue from the game with the "prize" as the maximum.

What a f| |cking scam.

Doubt it (2)

SkOink (212592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647737)

Expect innovation to dwindle until such time as a garage-shop inventor doesn't need to worry about getting sued for patent infringement.

Re:Doubt it (1)

RedDeadThumb (1826340) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649635)

Wasn't the idea for having patents in the first place mainly to spur on the small time inventor? Hello, sir or madame government person, how is that working out? These contests appear to be another sign that it isn't going so well!

uh-huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647803)

AMERICA COMPETES! ...until the fucking lawyers show up with fists full of bullshit patents. This is an enormous waste of money, at least until we fix our shitty, ridiculous patent system.

Competitons work, kinda. (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647817)

The problem with competitions is that they tend to produce solutions optimized to win the competition - and that may or may not be a solution that's actually useful to solve the real-world problems the competition is notionally aimed at.

Competitons work, to increase investement... (2)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649931)

It seems to me that competitions really focus the currently existing players in a field for publicity purposes. The solutions for contests are often already feasible, but the unclear rewards and the risk of failure deter the investment levels required for the attempts. Somehow the prize money tips the scale and forces the existing player to take on more risk (often even out of proportion to the reward). Maybe that's not particuarly useful to advance technology leading up to the prize, but it does help with investment in the field which is the fuel for developing the technology for the future (and often what the prize aims for).

For example, the Orteig Prize inspired the Lindbergh flight and although the Lindbergh flight was arguably over-optimized for the contest, the prize was just enough to motivate the current big players, but not enough to fund the endeavor itself. I seem to remember, that the planes of the day that had the capability to do the transatlantic crossing were ~$50K, but the prize was only ~$25K. Most of the attempts to win this prize were quite conventional (nobody built a new plane), so any tech that was used were certainly applicable to the real-world problems the competion was aimed at. The fact that Lindbergh won this prize is often just attributed to his huberis than any skill or planning on his part (basically, he flew solo on a single engine plane w/o a radio, even though the competions rules allowed for multiple pilots, multi-engined planes and radio and instruments). He took the most risk and won, but it was certainly in the reach of nearly all the competitors. After the contest, there was a surge in investement in aviation based companies which no-doubt fueled research in solving even more "real-world" problems.

The X-prize is another interesting data point. The leading contender and winner (scaled composites) really had the capability and plan to do this, it was a matter of time and focus (the original plan, if you believe Paul Allen, was to piggy-back on the contest publicity, but not actually attempt to win, until the insurance policy guaranteeing money showed up). Even non-participants (e.g., SpaceX) probably had the capability (but declined to compete to focus on more commercial issues) saw that they had to step up in their game to keep from being percieved as falling behind another company in the space business. The x-prize (like the orteig prize) also fueled investment in space access companies (Virgin Galactic, Bigalow Aerospace, Blue-origin, etc) and highlighted some alternate technologies that may or may-not be picked up by more viable companies in the future.

On the other hand, the more sceptical among us might envision this scenario instead...
1. Have some money to invest...
2. Find someone doing something cool in an obscure speculative field...
3. Invest in their company, and encourage the development of a prize in that field...
4. ??? someone wins the prize
5. Profit when investment starts pouring into that previously obscure speculative field.

Re:Competitons work, to increase investement... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39650181)

For example, the Orteig Prize inspired the Lindbergh flight

And it's a shining example of exactly what I was talking about. The Spirit of St. Louis was a point solution optimized to win the prize - technologically and evolutionarily it was a dead end.
 

After the contest, there was a surge in investement in aviation based companies which no-doubt fueled research in solving even more "real-world" problems.

Correlation does not imply causation. The rising demand (in general) for aviation, and the rising demand for warplanes no doubt played large roles as well.
 

The X-prize is another interesting data point.

Same deal - intended to inspire the development of craft that could be scaled to reach LEO, resulted in a point solution that is outstanding at meeting the narrow goal of the prize but scales poorly towards the intended result.
 

The x-prize (like the orteig prize) also fueled investment in space access companies

Same deal - you've got cause, effect, correlation and causation, and the order and reasons why things happened all blended together backasswards.

Schizophrenic government is schizophrenic (1)

jiteo (964572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647873)

We want to stir the brains of geniuses! But don't you dare learn about evolution in school!

Re:Schizophrenic government is schizophrenic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649251)

None of these tech challenges have anything to do with evolution. Neither does most science, if you honestly think about it.

We have already seen some of these (2)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647897)

Darpa has had the Shredder document challenge (http://archive.darpa.mil/shredderchallenge/) , Nasa has had a roboic spheres challenge (http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jan/HQ_12-029_SPHERES_Challenge_Winner.html)

Darpa has been having the autonomous vehicle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Grand_Challenge)

The Navy the underwater autonomous vehicle comp. (http://www.sdnews.com/view/full_story/302685/article-Navy-readies-to-host-autonomous-underwater-vehicle-competition)

it seems that these competitions have already been started, there is a track record for this producing results. I worked on the shredder challenge, I found it fun and had a good time creating what I did. It is a good way to focus many people on solutions.

But you are right, the patent/copyright laws are out of whack and are now an impediment to progress, which means an impediment to profit in general just not in specific. The patent time line should go back to 35 years or so.

Re:We have already seen some of these (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648173)

So you are against patents but want patent lengths to be more than doubled? Huh?

Re:We have already seen some of these (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649601)

Sorry I always confuse the copyright and patent times, it appears to be 20 years from earliest claimed filing date, and filed before 1995 17 years from issue or 20 years from earliest claimed domestic priority date, the longer term applying (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_patent_law)

So for more recent patents, its 20 years or 57% of what I said. I am not against patents or copyright. Copyright for up to 120 years for regurlar works
that is 70 years after the death of the author or 120 years after creation if work for hire or 95 years after publication whichever is shorter.

We have Sonny Bono to thank for that monstrosity, all to keep Disney's Steamboat Willy steaming along with profits.

But in terms of Patents, am I wrong that a patent can be renewed multiple times with minor changes to extend the protection of a patent?

Certainly the Copyright laws are counter productive (literally). The Patent law with renewals the same. Lets not talk about software patents.

Re:We have already seen some of these (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39666299)

But in terms of Patents, am I wrong that a patent can be renewed multiple times with minor changes to extend the protection of a patent?

Incorrect, rather than totally wrong. That is, a new patent can be issued to anyone making changes to a previously patented invention (how minor is left as an exercise for the new inventor, his examiner, and the courts). The changed patent cannot affect the term of the original patent, however. If the new patent is sufficiently better than the old one, no one would use the original design, but that does not mean that they *couldn't*.

Example: SFB Morse patents the original click-click telegraph (as opposed to the Napoleonic War era flag telegraph), and separately patents the original (multiple lengths of dash) Morse code. Before the original patent ran out, anyone, not just Morse, could patent a new telegraph code (say the single length dash version that became the standard). They might have to pay a license to SFB Morse if the examiner decided that it was sufficiently derivative of the original, but only until the original coding scheme left its patent period. After the original Morse code patent expired, anyone could use/sell/etc. the old version without license fee, if anyone would pay for the more complicated scheme.

Likewise, someone could patent using a buzzer or whatnot to replace the original clicker, and would have to pay a license to Morse's company (Western Union?) to sell buzzer telegraphs until the clicker patent expired. Someone DID patent an automated repeater for the telegraph, but the telegraph was out of patent by the time that Edison (and probably others) did. Anyone wanting to manufacture the automated repeater would have to license it from Edison or his assigns, until that patent expired. A patented improvement on the repeater would not affect when the original repeater patent expired, although it might be a waste of effort to make the old design after the new design appeared, due to the superiority of the new design.

spend (5, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647991)

40 years stripping funding from public education,
passing asinine laws like "teach the controversy"
raising tuition costs at public universities
outsourcing technical jobs to the phillipines and china

only to hold a "public competition" to see who among those left standing from academia can invent something bold, new, and amazing which will then be targeted for acquisition by one of americas officially approved, sanctioned tech companies (google, apple, microsoft, pick one it doesnt matter) and if there is any resistance to this process, it will be obliterated through patent litigation or lobbied to death until no one has it. At which time megacorp will proclaim a new and bold innovation that sounds strikingly familiar.

america doesnt want innovation because it has the power to displace monopolistic plutocracies. another fact of the matter is that health insurance, dental, vision, 401k, retirement, and all the cool things about being an employee are really fucking expensive. companies would rather not hire 50 people to come up with a new invention, especially during a recession that some of these companies were directly complicit in creating. just take a few grand for your efforts and give us the goods, they say. on the government level its also why DARPA hosts most of these things. Keep working on fun new robots but for god sake dont question the economic or foreign policy that relegated you to joining a damn competition so you can afford dental work.

Re:spend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39652911)

You have some false information in your premises. Public education funding has increased(and not just the raw dollar amount, I'm talking adjusted for inflation and per student):
  http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/history/edhistory.pdf

This isn't to say anything else about your propositions are suspect, I just wanted to point out this very common falsehood.

I'm still waiting for the next world's fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648155)

to unveil my steam-powered flying confabulomobile to the grand public.

2012 in South Korea? Algae noodles? What!?!

Great! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648171)

Can anyone participate?

- - Zhang Wei

All for competitions (5, Interesting)

rclandrum (870572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648213)

Having led the Shredder challenge for all of a week or so (the teams killed me :), I can attest that the cash prize offered was (for me) an incredible incentive to come up with a solution. Offering direct prizes for innovative solutions to specific, limited, problems is a great idea and one that can help foster a spirit of inventiveness. Patents are a non-issue unless you plan on commercializing a solution, and if that is the case, you (or the government) could license what is needed.

Take even a cursory look at the inventions produced (and commercialized) by citizens of the United States, and you quickly realize that we created most of the things used in the modern world. It is exactly that spirit of inventiveness that the government should be encouraging to help create new jobs, and a challenge program is a direct and productive way to go about it.

Re:All for competitions (1)

king_grumpy (1685560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649795)

Patents are a non-issue unless you plan on commercializing a solution, and if that is the case, you (or the government) could license what is needed.

How do you find out which patents you've touched upon without paying for lawyers? How do you find the money to license said patents before you've made any money from your product?

Re:All for competitions (1)

rclandrum (870572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39650241)

Patents are a non-issue unless you plan on commercializing a solution, and if that is the case, you (or the government) could license what is needed.

How do you find out which patents you've touched upon without paying for lawyers? How do you find the money to license said patents before you've made any money from your product?

If you come up with a commercially viable (i.e. can make money) product or process, angel or VC money can help you get a jump start. In addition, those type of people have been through the process of helping to get patents on whatever unique stuff you bring to the table as well as providing management and negotiating experience should you find that your product or process requires licensing.

Or perhaps your new shiny thing has a very limited potential market (left-handed shrimp farmers, sane tea party members, etc). In that case you might make enough money to provide you and a few others with a nice comfortable living while never rising high enough to be noticed by the trolls. Over the past 24 years, my software product company (with a somewhat limited market) has been hit up by two trolls - one we paid to go away (the "license" fee was cheap), and one we fought (and made go away) because we had a bunch of prior art.

One of the keys to being a successful innovator is to concentrate more on solutions and less on obstacles. If you are a worrier, its probably best to make your mark through excellence in your craft and attention to detail rather than with leaps of imagination. True worriers (such as some accountants, CFO's, and editors I've met) can have real value to the companies they serve and can make significant coin. Not everyone is an Edison.

Re:All for competitions (1)

ace37 (2302468) | more than 2 years ago | (#39650465)

There is no system like what you're asking for. You do your due diligence (maybe as simple as googling keywords) and call it good. Hopefully you're right. If anyone has a patent, they are the ones that have to find you and contact and/or sue you.

In the end it doesn't matter. If you make too much money and get noticed by the wrong folks, you can end up in court. It wouldn't matter if the patent bringing suit played a direct role in your invention, was a legitimate 'it was my innovative new idea before you had it' patent that you missed, or it was a pure troll patent optimized for legal battles. If you are brought to fight in court, you already lost time and money. And even if you flagrantly trespass a patent on purpose for gain, if nobody notices, you probably won't see any consequences.

That is just a small part of why the patent law system is broken. Not that I have a better answer.

Re:All for competitions (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39654863)

Take even a cursory look at the inventions produced (and commercialized) by citizens of the United States, and you quickly realize that we created most of the things used in the modern world.

Bwahahaha. Seriously, you have been drinking the Kool-Aid too long. Ignorance is bliss I suppose. After moving out of the US, I soon discovered the white-washing that is American history as taught in US schools. With few exceptions, a lot of so-called American inventions were actually invented elsewhere first, and the ideas were stolen and "commercialized" in the US where credit was taken. Invention of the telephone? Not Bell. Airplane? Not the Wright brothers. I can go on and on...

Sure, the US was usually very successful at commercializing inventions... but many of the inventions came from outside the US. Unfortunately this is not the history taught to us when we were in school.

Re:All for competitions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39657715)

I don't see this, at least for the airplane. How would you define the 'first' airplane? I don't think that you can go back to Leonardo (or earlier). The Wright brothers were the first with powered, controlled, sustained flight. It could be flown indefinitely (until the fuel ran out). There were many predecessors that produced part of it, but what the earlier researchers were trying to achieve was what the Wright brothers actually achieved. So, they "invented the airplane".

In any field, there are predecessors. Take, for example, the transistor. Everybody knows that it was invented at Bell Labs, but there were earlier ideas (and patents).
Nobody invents something in vacuo. For each invention, there are earlier failed attempts, lots of ideas generated, approaches, pie-in-the-sky visions, etc, but the inventor is the person that makes it actually work in real life.


Under that definition, many things were invented in the US. Your point is well taken that we've stolen lots of things too and called them inventions. Edison is famous for stealing ideas, though it's not commonly taught in US schools. But, you are exagerating with your 'with few exceptions'.

WARNING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39648385)

Anybody that presents their inventions should be warned that some corporation will be allowed to use it, and you will likely end up with nothing. Corporations immune to civil action will simply claim it as their's.

not worth it (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648983)

One huge issue is that the inventor is the last person to get paid when their invention goes big. And the pay isn't enough. Now it seems being dumb enough to have a great invention and taking it to a company for marketing and sales is a nice invitition to buy the Board a round of yachts while you make .00002 cents on the dollar for contributing nothing but the idea to this fine product.

Re:not worth it (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649785)

I think the competition is because most of these will have little or no commercial potential, at least in the near term. If there was a potential for a marketable product the government wouldn't need to throw money at it. There's nothing wrong with funding pure research though.

Symptom of a broken system (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649033)

The whole free market economy is already supposed to be a 'competition'.

1.) You come up with a new, cool solution to a problem.
2.) Sell it or start a business around it.
3.) "Win" your monetary prize

The fact that they need to sponsor a sub-system within the existing system just demonstrates that the parent system is broken. Many reasons already mentioned....

1.) broken patents
2.) too much govt regulation
3.) too much existing corporate power (yes you can have 2 & 3 at ths same time!)

Re:Symptom of a broken system (1)

doston (2372830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649203)

The whole free market economy is already supposed to be a 'competition'.

1.) You come up with a new, cool solution to a problem. 2.) Sell it or start a business around it. 3.) "Win" your monetary prize

The fact that they need to sponsor a sub-system within the existing system just demonstrates that the parent system is broken. Many reasons already mentioned....

1.) broken patents 2.) too much govt regulation 3.) too much existing corporate power (yes you can have 2 & 3 at ths same time!)

You might be right, but 2 is totally over publicized that 3 is not even allowed public discourse. 3 is the most important problem of our day. Period. Yes, even above female contraception and gay marriage! Gasp.

Re:Symptom of a broken system (2)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39650575)

Look at some of the competitions they're talking about though. "Flu App Challenge", "Energy & Water from Waste", etc. There's no market potential outside of government spending.

Re:Symptom of a broken system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39650621)

1.) You come up with a new, cool solution to a problem. 2.) Sell it or start a business around it. 3.) "Win" your monetary prize

iPad, eReaders, Angry Birds, light beer, the list is endless. The system works fine for products that sell.

Why Bother? (2)

edibobb (113989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39649465)

What's the point of making something new? If you're successful you'll just get sued for patent infringement when some company that's never produced anything (or whose business is in decline) matches up an overly broad patent on a trivial concept with your new development.

Nice Idea in Theory (3, Interesting)

DaKong (150846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39650385)

I have a startup that is bootstrapping itself as we speak. It is difficult. Banks won't lend to you. VCs want to exploit you. Access to funds is non-existent. One of the ways that the government claims to help startups is with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. They are exceptionally restrictive and prone to cronyism at worst, and extreme risk aversion at best. Solyndra in particular has exacerbated the latter.

Bureaucrats are about the world's least able people to evaluate business ideas or technological innovation. Bureaucrats are the diametric opposite of the risk-takers that entrepreneurs are. They are the last people who ought to be sitting in judgement on the merits of innovative ideas.

So, holding competitions to award prize money to great ideas sounds like an excellent proposition in theory, but in practice it gets sucked down into the mire of why our country is failing badly: the wrong people are in charge.

Re:Nice Idea in Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39657285)

I believe that entrepreneurs minimize risk where possible but take risks if the potential rewards, magnitude of potential loss, effort expended, and probability of
success justify it. I looked into Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants in about 1994 or so. They said you have two years to bring it to market or the
government owns all of your intellectual property that was funded with the SBIR and can give it to whomever they want. Yet it takes 34 months (~3years) to get a
patent. One problem with the U.S. is that the money got concentrated due to free trade. Manufacturing gave a percentage cut of the GDP to the working
classes. Now less money goes to the working class and fewer of the working class can afford to start a company. Launching a business while working is not an
option due to the one sided intellectual property agreements. So there are fewer entrepreneurs. The bureaucrats need to study their nursery rhymes (Don't kill
the goose that lays the golden eggs).

Work for Free (1)

SoothingMist (1517119) | more than 2 years ago | (#39657271)

Yet another way for the government to get work done for nothing. They pay a trifle and get hordes of people working. Who sponsors the work of all those who do not win this lottery?

Re:Work for Free (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39666449)

Yet another way for the government to get work done for nothing. They pay a trifle and get hordes of people working. Who sponsors the work of all those who do not win this lottery?

FOSS companies? Who pays programmers for improved Linux software (as opposed to paying programmers to try to improve it, in hopes that they get improvements where the company needs it, versus a new entry in /usr/games)?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>