Ronald J. Riley as Media Resource
I am writing to make journalists aware of some important trends in the independent inventor & small business communities, and to offer my services to any journalist who needs information about the inventor community. In many cases, I can put journalists in contact with local inventors. I am in contact with a large number of prominent American inventors, including many of the living National Inventor Hall of Fame inductees and American Nobel laureates.
I am an inventor and owner of several small businesses. I am one of the leaders of a movement which started among inventors in 1990. We first banded together to share information patent enforcement. Then we organized to protect our legislative interests. Since have expanded our activities to fight invention promotion fraud and we are trying to educate aspiring inventors via www.InventorEd.org.
Inventors and journalists have much in common. Both produce intellectual property, which everyone wants, but most are not willing to fairly compensate the creator. Independent inventors situation is both worse and better than that of journalists. In both cases only a few of either group are dramatically successful and become wealthy. While the majority of journalists earn a living from their creations, the majority of independent inventors (about 99%) receive nothing for their work. The other side of the coin is that when inventors do profit from their inventions, it can be truly staggering. And for those few inventors who do succeed, the compensation is greater than that received by even the most successful journalists.
As one of the leaders who helped instigate an unprecedented degree of cooperation among inventors of diverse interests, I hope publicity convinces those who would steal inventors work that now is the time to clean up their acts.
Even if an inventor has the resources to access the legal system, the vulgarities of the system often deny the inventor fair compensation. Take the Kearns versus Ford case in regards to the delay windshield wiper. Kearns estimates his economic loss at $750 million including time value of the money. I have talked with a number of creditable sources who were privy to the case details who say Ford believed that the jury might award up to $300 million. Ford offered a settlement in the $40 to $60 million range which Kearns declined. The jury awarded him about $10 million. Ford probably spent $10 to $20 million on the case for a total cost of $30 million or so. Sounds to me like Ford made out very well on the case, but the area where they lost was in the PR department. Almost every American has heard of the case and everyone I have ever talked with saw Ford for what they are. http://www.inc.com/incmagazine/archives/12971111.html
Another good example is the Celeritas case as reported by the Wall Street Journal on 1-31-97, where the Judge Rafeedie characterized Rockwell's witnesses; looked like liars, hedgers and he said Rockwell's conduct was somewhat egregious. He added the intent was there from the beginning to misappropriate the technology. Further, Judge Rafeedie said this case is one of the worst that I have ever heard in terms of the evidence presented. And he said the events described by Rockwell after the fact didn't seem to be in accord with the evidence. The award was doubled to 115.3 million. Please note that this kind of conduct by larger companies is not unusual. What is unusual, but becoming more frequent, is that they are getting caught.
Convergence of a number of factors has created the opportunity for a rebirth of Americas economy through innovation.
Starting about 1940, Americas independent inventor community suffered a forty year dark age, during which patents were not enforceable. The formation of the CAFC (Circuit Federal Appellate Court), in 1982 made patents held by small companies once again enforceable. This is a fact, which during the last ten years the large companies have discovered the hard way. There are numerous cases where companies have been assessed damages in terms of tens and a number in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Another factor is corporate down sizing, which created many opportunities for independent inventors, while at the same time forcing them out of the large corporations. And last, the fact that those ex-corporate inventors have started collaborating, sharing information about which companies and law firms are reputable and which are not. This means that the reputable organizations are getting more opportunities to work with Americas finest inventors, while the others are kept in the dark until after the market is established.
Inventor collaboration has occurred across all disciplines and degrees of success, from those just starting out to over two dozen Nobel Laureates (http://www.PIAUSA.org/coalition/nobel-s507/) , and over a dozen National and Physicians Hall of Fame inductees (http://www.PIAUSA.org/coalition/ipc1/). This is truly an unprecedented historical first.
Those who steal inventors work have been conducting a smear campaign against the inventor community. That campaign has been triggered by the fact that inventors are winning many more cases today, thanks to Bob Kearns and his fight to extract compensation from Ford Motor and other companies, most of the public and the judges are aware that many of the big companies are disreputable.
The independent inventor community had hoped that those companies would respond to their losses by starting to act in an ethical manner. But those who are unethical reason differently than the rest of us. Instead of becoming honest, they have responded with a campaign designed to convince the public that inventors are as crooked as the big guys. And the crooks who are losing those cases are responding to their losses by introducing so called "patent Reform" legislation, which would make patents virtually unenforceable for small companies.
I sincerely believe that journalists and inventors are kindred spirits, and that journalists can play an important role in exposing how and why large companies treat inventors poorly, and how that harms all Americans by lowering job creation.
Views expressed are my own. Detailed contact information available on web pages shown below.
Ronald J. Riley is president of Riley and Associates, Inc., a Grand Blanc, Michigan based company and is an inventor who specializes in industrial controls and product development but also has patents pending in diverse areas such as foot wear, telecommunications, exercise equipment, and numerous other consumer products. He is President of the advisory board of the Alliance for American Innovation, an advisory board member for Intellectual Property Creators, a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, The Planetary Society, and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Ronald J. Riley holds five patents related to electrified monorail controls, with other patents pending. He has near 30 years of engineering experience with the last 20 in industrial controls. That experience includes analog and digital design from board level to systems integration, with extensive software background covering assembly to high level language programming. He has worked for the last six years as a consultant, writer for engineering and inventor publications, and also as a manufacturer of monorail control products. His residence and 3000 sq. ft. laboratory are located on a 114 acre tree farm in Grand Blanc, near Flint, Michigan.
If you would like more information you may read about me at: http://www.rjriley.com/about-rjriley/.
Copyright 1997-2003 by Ronald J. Riley
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