Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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open source via reverse psychology

trick inventors into releasing their knowledge
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Isn't it strange that every mad scientist / inventor with a good idea is certain that it will change the world and make him a millionaire, regardless of the real-world statistics which show that they are probably going to get ripped off, laughed at (and rediscovered 100 years later) or just have their IP bought off and buried by a competitor mega-corp. All those people making impossible overunity machines, permanent magnet motors and so on are SO sure their idea is ingenious, and are usually not willing to share any information which will make feasibility study possible, and eventually die angry. But we can use this paranoia to our advantage – Just send us the address of your favorite crazy inventor, and we will send our team of "CIA agents" or "Exxon reps" over to his house. They will tell him his invention is a threat to national security (or any other conspiracy bull), which will only feed his ego and provide confirmation that someone actually knows and cares about him. Then they will threaten him that he should stop working on his thingamajig "or else". And most importantly – not to tell anyone about it or how it works. Especially do not dare publish the plans on the web. You get my drift. I assume 80% success at information release.

While this may be a joke, I actually know an inventor from Texas who developed a cool "Thermoacoustic engine" in his garage a few years ago. The engine was one of the best (and only) designs at the time. I asked him for the plans for a nonprofit org (engineers without borders) without success. 3-4 years later MIT came up with a very similar design. I bet the guy doesn't even have the cash for a legal battle. google "thermoacoustic mems" for his site if your'e interested.

supershnitzel, Mar 02 2009


zeno, Mar 02 2009

       1) Any true inventors trying to protect an idea won't let anyone know about it (so the "agents" won't know which house to go to or whether the idea is worth pursuing this way), and   

       2) I don't know about others on this site, but I'm generally against tricking people out of their ideas.   

       Better solution - create a more effective/efficient system for reporting and protecting ideas to reduce paranoia and make it more likely great ideas will be put out into the open, while the inventor will still get credit/keep IP.   

       I once applied for a patent and waited 2 years to hear anything back from USPTO, then was told by one patent reviewer to make 1 change to make it differ enough from prior art and it would get approved, then a 2nd/final reviewer didn't approve it and I never got the patent. They seemed surprised that an individual (and not a patent attorney) was applying, knowing how difficult and frustrating the process is.   

       So, IMHO, current patent application process is either frustrating and difficult (if you go at it alone) or frustrating and expensive (if you hire a lawyer). If I weren't pissed off with the USPTO because of that bad 2+ year long experience (resulting in enough time passing by that my invention is not protectable anymore), I would have submitted about 5 more ideas by now, all which of course I consider to be ingenius inventions that would have changed the world. :)
paix120, Mar 03 2009

       I should add, I would gladly post my ideas on public forums (like this) if there were some guarantee that could be used as evidence of the date/time the idea was invented and I could therefore be protected as the inventor.
paix120, Mar 03 2009

       Paranoid inventors love to keep their invention secret because they know (albeit subconsciously) that as soon as they reveal their secret invention, reality is going to kick their ass (not 'big oil' or the CIA). In the small chance their invention is both novel and practical, the paranoid inventor would rather having the luxury of claiming retrospectively that "they could have been a millionaire", than actually try to make (or at least patent) their invention (with the associated skill, effort and risk of failure).   

       What I'm trying to say is: paranoid inventors are cowards. And frankly, I couldn't give a shit about their inventions. I find it absurdly unlikely that their invention is so uniquely brilliant that only they could have arrived at such an insight.   

       [paix120], publication on the internet can be used as prior art to invalidate patents (as evidence of this: about 10 ideas from halfbakery are cited as prior art on US patents). However, you must provide an "enabling disclosure". For example, you can't just say "OMG, wouldn't it be cool if there was a helicopter with *4* counter-rotating blades!!!"; you have to give enough detail that an aeronautical engineer could build that helicopter.   

       The best place to publish an invention for the sole purpose of invalidating any subsequent patent application for the same invention is (ironically) to apply for a patent (since the patent database is the main place a patent examiner will search). Even if a patent application doesn't get granted, it will still be published and can used as prior art. The initial application for a patent is relatively inexpensive depending on the country (a few hundred dollars in Australia).
xaviergisz, Mar 03 2009

       I thought extortion was baked...
Spacecoyote, Mar 03 2009

       Well, I don't know any mad scientists, but I did watch Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" about a million times (when my girls were little) so I think I know what I'm talking about.   

       Belle's father (in the movie, stay with me) did not have the benefit of threatening CIA agents or of bull-feeding Exxon reps, yet he managed to get his wood-chopping invention invited to the local fair. So this proves that your idea is totally bogus and also would not have advanced the plot (of the movie, stay with me) in any useful way.   

       Don't get me wrong, though; I'm all in favor of teasing mad scientists. I think they secretly relish it. Also, your idea would give CIA agents something innocuous to do, which would be a nice change of pace for everyone.
colorclocks, Mar 03 2009

       We will Bob.
zeno, Mar 03 2009


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