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MAKING MONEY OUT OF PATENTS

BY WALDEMAR KAEMPFFERT

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To invent a successful device is one It takes as much ingenuity to market an

thing ; to make money out of it, invention as to create it.

another. It is no easy matter to Just how that ingenuity shall be exercised sell an invention that means a change in a depends much upon the character of the time-honored way of manufacturing bedposts invention. A loom that costs $20,000 to

. or of boiling eggs. The man who invented manufacture cannot be sold as if it were a the vacuum cleaner had to fight rusty house- breakfast food. There may be only fifty hold conservatism that found the old broom possible buyers in the whole country, and of "good enough." Try and kick up something these perhaps not ten could write a check new and you are bound to stub your toe for the purchase price. against the brick concealed beneath the high That situation is encountered time and hat of prejudice. Steam coaches ran success- time again. It was encountered, for exfully in England in 1824. Parliament passed ample, during the building of the Chicago the “Road Locomotive Act,” decreeing that Drainage Canal. Contractors who bid on a man with a red lag must precede a motor- rock excavation were told that their tenders driven vehicle and prohibiting a speed greater must not exceed eighty cents a cubic yard. than four miles an hour. Thus the automo- Rock had never been excavated before at bile was ditched for more than half a century. that price under the same conditions. The There are men still alive who can remember apparently impossible could be accomplished the derision that greeted the proposals to by a combination of two inventions—the telegraph across the Atlantic and to build cableway and the cantilever, later used with ships of iron. It took a Niagara of adver- success at Panama. Of these the cantilever tising to convince us that a piano could be cost $28,000. Few contractors could afford acceptably played with air instead of flexible to pay that sum. Accordingly the manufacfingers trained for years ; that a watch cost- turer leased the machine, with the result that ing only a dollar would actually keep time; contractors ultimately excavated rock at fiftythat a safety razor would mow chin bristles. six cents a cubic yard: the State of Illinois

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THE CANTILEVER EXCAVATOR
This excavator cost $28,000. By its means the Chicago Drainage Canal was dug at an unprecedentedly cheap rate

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THE FIRST TELEPHONE AND THE MODERN TELEPHONE
To the left is Professor Alexander Graham Bell's telephone of 1877, with its casing removed;
to the right, the modern desk telephone. Dell's instrument was used both as a receiver and
Transmitter : hence it was necessary first to talk into the mouthpiece and then apply one's
ear to it, in order to listen. Great as this difference is between the two instruments,

Professor Lell's receiver is identical in principle with that employed to-day

saved about five million dollars, and the business method of placing a complicated manufacturer made more money out of his machine on the market. The most imporroachines than if he had sold them outright. tant machines used in shoe manusacturing are

But leasing is not always effective. The welters and stitchers. These are leased and United States Government, the biggest of never sold-leased, moreover, on such condiall contractors, will not pay royalties. It tions that the welter may not be used with a insists on owning its own machinery. Edison competing stitcher, nor the stitcher with a comhas invented a powerful rock-crusher which peting welter,

About five and three-quarter can pulverize a twenty-ton boulder. On the cents for every pair of shoes made by these whole continent there is not a market for machines is paid by shoe manufacturers ir: a dozen such machines, and the profits on royalties. In addition to the welter and the dozen would not pay the expense of

stitcher the shoe machinery patentees place the hundreds of experiments made before at the disposal of the shoe manufacturer some the crusher became a practicable machine. twenty-six auxiliary machines, which he may Colonel Goethals wanted to buy such a or may not as he sees fit, and for crusher for breaking rock to be used in which only a rominal rental is charged, constructing the Gatun Dam in Panama. varying from $5 to $35 a year-barely Edison asked a small royalty for each ton enough to pay for wear and tear. These of rock crushed, a sum that amounted to auxiliary machines, however, may not be but a small fraction of the saving that used unless the welter and stitcher are would be effected. The negotiations failed. leased. Such “ tying " clauses in leases were

Leasing is probably the most approved invented long before the modern trust was

use

conceived. Although their legality is now troduced in its initial form. Whether it be being subjected to judicial scrutiny under the a collar button or a locomotive, a battle-ship Sherman Law, cannot be denied that the or a tin whistle, an invention never leaps out leasing system has enabled many a poor man of the Jovian head of the inventor a perfect who could not afford to buy machinery to mechanical Minerva. Its fruition is often a engage in shoe manufacturing with little process of years. The first telephone procapital.

duced by Alexander Graham Bell could In the testimony taken in the now famous hardly transmit speech. Years of patient “Dick-Henry case we learned of still another laboratory work and millions in money were method of marketing patented machinery, a expended in developing a system of commethod which consists in selling a device at munication that will handle a million and a less than cost and compelling the purchaser half calls a day in New York alone; that to buy from the manufacturer whatever will enable an operator to connect two subsupplies may be necessary to operate the scribers in a city in less than fifteen secdevice. If supplies bought in the open mar- onds; and that has made it possible to talk ket are used, the patent is infringed, because more than two-thirds of the way across the the inventor or his assignee has the exclusive North American continent. constitutional right to use the machine in any Thomas A. Watson, one of the pioneer way that he himself sees fit and has permitted telephone engineers of this country and an the purchaser to use the machine only in a assistant of Bell's, draws this picture of the certain prescribed way. So the courts have first demonstration made between Boston and held time and time again in cases decided New York in 1877 : long before Dick vs. Henry aroused comment. Few inventors have ever grown rich by

Our laboratory was on the upper floor of a reason of the royalties that have been paid

boarding-house in Boston. The house was full

of boarders, whom we had disturbed quite serito them. To make a fortune out of a new ously with all sorts of noisy experiments. I tool or a new folding-bed the inventor must realized that since I had to do the shouting of become a manufacturer. Even Edison would

my life that night, I would have to do some

thing to muffle the noise. I took the blankets not be a wealthy man to-day if he had sold

off my bed and Dr. Bell's and arranged a sort of liis more important inventions instead of

tent over my big telephone with five thicknesses jaanufacturing them

of blanket. When I got himself. His method

the signal from Dr. Bell

in New York that he is that adopted by

was ready to hear me, inost knowing pat

I crawled in under my entees.

blanket tеnt, and for used in the Govern

two mortal hours I

shouted to him. inent's mints for coining metals are pro

It takes imaginaduced and sold by

tion to see the possitheir inventor, Oberlin

bilities of a great Smith. In Pawtucket,

invention. The teleRhode Island, is a

phone seemed so unprosperous plant built

promising in 1877 that by the two inventors

the Western Union of successful metal

Telegraph Company shaping machinery.

refused Bell's offer of The instrurnents used

$100,000 for his patin telephone central

ents. A newspaper stations to record the

editor, Frederick Gowduration of a conver

er, who had a contract sation were invented

now worth millions by a man who is pres

for the exclusive use ident of the com

of the telephone in pany by which they

New England, gladly are made.

exchanged his conNone of these in

This is an outsole rapid lock-stitch machine, used to fasten the
outsole with a lock-stitch to the welt in making a welt

tract rights with Mr. ventions was ever in

shoe. The machine was developed, at a cost of many
thousands of dollars, by professional inventors

Gardiner Hubbard,

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The presses

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A LEASED MACHINE FOR SHOE

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THE ARTIFICIAL DAYLIGHT LAMP

the financial backer

three
years

of

paof the first telephone

tient, expensive, heartcompany, for the ex

breaking experimentclusive privilege of

ing. A special hyiecturing on the tele

draulic press had to phone for the whole

be built, and other United States. He

special machines as had that right without

the experiments called asking for it.

for them. Then it In a patent-infringe

was discovered that ient suit involving

the press was not the Mergenthaler lin

strong enough. An otype the brilliant

entirely new one had Judge Coxe went out

to be designed and of his way to com

constructed. Next it ment on the crudity

was found that the of epoch-making in

idea of printing one ventions and the sys

wet color upon antematic improvements

other was impracticanecessary before they

ble with the printing could be commercially

inks on the market. introduced. Not only

An ink chemist was was the Morse tele

employed, who spent graph a fit subject for

over

a year in the a museum within a

unsuccessful effort to few months after its

produce inks of the first feeble success,

desired character. but the Howe sew

After he failed, a After years of experimenting Dr. Herbert E. Ives has invented a ing-machine, he an

practical printing ink cial daylight. The invention consists in the use of colored nounced from the screens which siit out those rays of an ordinary tungsten

maker was engaged, filament lamp which are undesirable. Before artificial bench, could not be

daylight was thus attained no gem expert would who finally succeeded

buy a diamond late in the afternoon, no artist successfully used by would paint after four o'clock, no

after many months. printer would attempt to manipulate. inks, any woman for ten no dry-woods merchant would try to

Even though the years after the patent match fabrics, except in full daylight

process, the press, was granted. Yet both Morse and Howe are and the inks seemed perfect, no satisfactory deservedly regarded as great American in- results could be obtained. It was discovered ventors.

that the arrangement of the printing cylinders It took ten years to produce a press on was at fault. Because they were arranged which the colored covers of our magazines vertically, so that the lowest one was near could be printed at one operation. Colored the Noor and the uppermost one near the reproductions of paintings are usually made ceiling, they were subjected to different degrees by printing three or four colors, one after of temperature, which affected the working of another, the paper being allowed to dry the inks. A new press had to be designed after each printing. With the rotary multi- and built with horizontal cylinders, all lying in color press, white paper is fed in at one end, the same zone of temperature, and then, at and emerges at the other completely printed. last, success was assured—but only success Such presses had been used for very rough in solving the problem of printing several work, but were utterly unadapted in their colors at one operation. The problem of original form for fine magazine-cover print- selling the press had not even been attacked. ing. The most skillful pressman and en- The manufacturer found it difficult to graver in the United States were engaged to interest publishers and printers in his method solve the basic problem of preparing print- of printing four-color magazine covers at one i:ng plates so that no "make-ready,” as it is operation. They came and watched the called in the trade, would be necessary. By press, marveled at its performances, but did 1901 a self-printing plate had been invented. nothing. They refused to believe their own Next came the problem of bringing it to com- eyes. In sheer desperation he had to install mercial perfection-a problem that involved the press at his own expense in a large pub

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color

men

were

en

as

was

lishing house and to furnish his experience market made its appearance only after an and assistance in trying it out. Even then outlay of $400,000. the machine ran for nine months every day Many inventions are the result of a single before the publisher was really convinced excursion into the field of invention—not that it could do his work.

because the patentees are discouraged by the The same story is repeated over and over obstacles that they encounter, but because again even with insignificant toys, hardware they are intellectually exhausted. Oliver Wennovelties, tools, and the like. A half-dozen dell Holmes once said that every man had at patented safety razors are at present compet- least one novel in him. He might have added ing with one another on the market. The that most of us also possess creative ability perfection of each has cost a king's ransom. enough to evolve at least one invention. Just On one of them the sum of two million dol- as many a novelist exhausts himself with a lars is said to have been spent to make it single splendid piece of fiction, so many an marketable, and as yet without avail. The inventor's ingenuity is spent in enriching his most widely advertised and most widely day and generation with but a single consold safety razor is the successful outcome of trivance. Howe is remembered for his sewseven years' hard work seven years spent ing-machine, and for nothing else; Bell, for not simply in producing the original inven- the telephone alone; Morse, simply for the tion, but in tempering thin steel, in producing telegraph. a handle to hold the blade, in devising It is curious, too, how many of these machine tools that would stamp blades out

not academically trained of a ribbon of steel. Few patented inventions gineers or mechanics. Apparently, if you have ever been brought to a marketable con- would invent a telephone, you must not dition in less than ten years, and no invention be an electrician, but a teacher of deafis ever made ex

mutes,

Bell actly in the form

when he described in the

came to this counpatent. It seems

try. If you would astounding

devise telefeat to apply ball

graph you must bearings to a car

emulate Morse pet-sweeper, so

and achieve disthat the machine

tinction as a porcan be pushed

trait-painter. If over a floor easily.

you would enrich Yet that rather

the world with a simple improve

phonograph, ment meant thir

moving - picture teen years of in

machine, an inventive effort on

candescent electhe part of the

tric light, and nine foremost manu

hundred other facturer of car

successful invenpet-sweepers in

tions, you must this country.

begin, it would About fifty-one

almost thousand dollars

from the history in money and six

of invention, as years in time were

Edison did, by

, spent in devis

selling newspaing a watch that

pers

trains would keep time

and picking up THE FIRST STEAM TURBINE ENGINE and that could be

your electricity, Eight years of time and about five millions in dollars were spent before this sold for a dollar.

first large Curtis steam turbine was built. The engine, which was your chemistry, The smallest

originally installed in a Chicago power-house from 1901 to 1904, is now
erected in the yards of its manufacturer to commemorate the

and your
practicable type.
beginning of the turbine industry in America. The sum of

chanics as best $1,500,000 was paid for the Curtis patents alone. Several writer the

millions more were then spent in experimenting and in im-
proving the first machine built according to the patent

you can.

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