RE:INVENTION’s Mnestic Monday: September 24, 2012

by | Monday, September 24th, 2012

Time for RE:INVENTION’s Mnestic Monday. Every Monday we honor business history and heritage, paying homage to yesterday’s inventions, inventors, innovators, and their media stories. At RE:INVENTION, we believe that respect for the past helps us shape our future. Understanding company heritage leads to innovation stewardship, business reinvention, and future business growth. This week’s theme is firefighting (real and virtual!).

mnestic (adj.) pertaining to memory, from Gk. mnestis “remembrance,” related to mnesis “memory.” Alas, mnestic isn’t a valid Scrabble Word. Darn.

This Day in History:

On September 24, 1877, at approximately 11 A.M., a fire broke out in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington D.C. It was the second of several disastrous fires in the history of the Patent Office. By mid-afternoon the fire was out, but the damages were done. According to expert accounts, some 80,000 models and some 600,000 copy drawings were destroyed.


If your company hopes to navigate through a catastrophic disaster, you need a well thought out Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). A disaster recovery plan could make the difference between bankruptcy and survival of your business innovations/inventions. While many companies have started to virtualize internal innovation process planning and data by turning to cloud computing, the cloud also brings considerable privacy risks. Today we honor the lessons learned from the Patent Office fires, doing our part to raise preparedness of innovators and inventors worldwide.

Media Flashback Based on Current News:

From brave firefighters battling burning building flames to innovation “firefighting.” In today’s Forbes column (September 24, 2012), guest contributor Perry Rotella asks, “What Good is Innovation if It’s Not Protected?”

“The more aggressively a firm can act to protect its intellectual property (IP), the less risk it will bear and the more prepared it will be if issues occur. CEOs recognize innovation as the primary growth driver for their organizations, but if any assume that their innovation process can be unbridled by competitive threats to their IP, they are mistaken.”

– Perry Rotella

There are many methods for protecting innovation and intellectual property. One answer is to join the patent race. Other alternatives include: obtaining a trademark, copyrighting rules or instructions, defensive publication of ideas, smarter branding, better marketing commercialization, and public relations (PR). Rubik’s Cube, Coca-Cola, and the infamous Pet Rock were never patented; good trademarks and great marketing drove their success.

Which brings us to today’s flashback article, a provocative and popular 2006 BusinessWeek story titled “When Do You Really Need a Patent?” written by Michelle Dammon Loyalka.

“Just because something is patentable and marketable still doesn’t mean that a patent is necessarily the best route to go,” Loyalka wrote in her 2006 article. “In fast moving industries, technology changes so quickly that a patent may not be beneficial,” she added.

In light of the recent Apple/Samsung IP infringement dispute, do you think Michelle’s words still ring true? Weigh in with your opinion in REINVENTION blog comments below.

Your Mnestic Monday “Lessons Of History” Quote:

“A small spark neglected has often kindled a mighty conflagration.” – Quintus Curtius, Roman Historian (during the reign of the Emperor Claudius or Vespasian, roughly 69-79 AD).

Until next Monday, “thanks for the memory!” IP hat tip to composer Ralph Rainger and lyricist Leo Robin…

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