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Sam Asano's Let's Invent: Golden lives matter

September 17. 2017 6:05PM

THIS WEEK we deal with patents and copyright, something that befuddles amateur inventors. In the past I’ve received many inquiries from amateur inventors regarding the concepts of their creations and whether they could successfully end up with patents.

A patent is an exclusive license to use and license or manufacture a product or process, and is provided by the federal government. To hold a patent elevates inventors to a higher status both intellectually and often monetarily. Basically, having a patent or two as an inventor is considered very desirable regardless of whether they have any monetary value. This week starts a short trip to find out if we could get a patent and a copyright registration for “Golden Lives Matter.”

When I began writing this column four years ago, I originally focused on the need to invent to raise the level of domestic manufacturing to cause an American Renaissance. Since then, I’ve received hundreds of comments from readers. They mostly come from two groups of people. The first group are the amateur inventors who have just come up with an idea and want to know whether it is patentable. The other, and much larger number, is from age 65 and over who have been suffering from all sorts of deficiencies, basically anything that hampers their lives because things aren’t designed right, manufactured right or put together right with no consideration to the aging.

Through the industrial prosperity that started about 1850, and pushed America to be the world’s top industrial nation until 1970, this country enjoyed unprecedented and continuous improvement in living standards. Every little town had a few factories or shops making various things, and residents were employed gainfully and happily. This nation was truly a country of milk and honey.

The 100-year prosperity, however, brought a substantial lifestyle change. Now the elders needn’t live with their sons and daughters, who have children. While in the Old World, three generations often live under a roof, America progressed to the point the older parents lived away from the current couple with their kids.

This fast rise in the living standards separated the currently working generation with children from the elders, who went away to live independently. This, however, created a form of sociological gap between the two groups of people.

The technological developments performed by the current generation very often end up totally suitable to themselves, but not to the elders. Websites use fonts that require a magnifying glass to read. TV broadcasts are spoken so fast that the elders cannot understand with their diminished hearing. Shoe stores cater to the young stylish crowd and ignore the needs of the elders who need skid-free soles. No wonder the elders feel they have been cut off from the mainstream of the very society they have worked hard to build.

Last week, I proposed to copy the feet of wolves. Also, I initiated the slogan “Golden Lives Matter,” a takeoff from “Black Lives Matter.” So, these are two projects I wish to commence. One is to ask, “Is copying the wolf’s paw patentable?” The other is can “Golden Lives Matter” become a registered copyright?

Christopher Frerking is a professor in charge of the intellectual properties department at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. He is also my patent counsel. I asked these two questions, and he is doing his search now. His immediate reply regarding the copying of wolves’ feet is that it is patentable unless someone has already done so. He is not able to divulge the communications between us as that is a client confidential matter. However, he would be able to inform me of the result of his queries in the not too distant future.

My column was started in 2013 with the title of “Let’s Invent” to encourage amateur inventors to step forward to invent and contribute to the manufacturing industry. During this past four years of writing every week without missing even one week, I have discovered that the area needing innovation badly is the field of assisting the elders — Golden Lives Matter.

Therefore, this column will focus on the innovations to assist the lives of the elders — especially those “aging in place,” people who wish to continue to live in their residence. So many items and issues remain that need improvements. We will apply as much technology, smart thinking and user friendliness to improve the elders’ lives. After all they have built this nation. Why can’t their lives be easier and more rewarding?

Shintaro “Sam” Asano of New Castle was named by MIT as one of the 10 most influential inventors of the 20th century. Write to him at

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