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Sam Asano's Let's Invent: Taking the next step to profits

June 15. 2014 8:39PM

An invention has a potential to be profitable. I would like to gradually guide you to make a profit out of your invention without spending a small fortune and mortgaging your house or your retirement fund.

First, lay off the obsession that you have to have a patent on your idea. A patent is defined as an exclusive license granted by the government for you to realize the concept into products or services. Applying for a patent and getting through the examination process and obtaining a patent isn’t cheap, to say the least. One thing our 99 percent inventors often overlook is that the government doesn’t guarantee you will make profit out of the patent it grants.

Inventors flock to patent lawyers in pursuit of profit through patents. Why? One reason is that some people and companies have made millions, and many of them are doing so as we speak. However, profitable patents are rare compared with the enormous number of patents granted each year.

The main reason why amateur inventors have difficulty making a profit out of patents lies in the prominent lack of patent management. Because the word “patent” has become so elevated on top of a pedestal in their mind, inventors become obsessed with applying for and getting patents. Once they are granted a patent or two, they soon forget to manage what they have. Patents do not pick up a phone and call some potential patent users, and negotiate a license. Inventors must do that by themselves. And here lies the problem. A big one.

(To be continued.)

Next revolution

A major epoch-making resolution is quietly happening throughout the world. Imagine a super-strong sheet of very thin material that can conduct electricity, stop bullets and is only one atom thick. You’d say that’s impossible. The material is called graphene. It was discovered by two scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at University of Manchester, and in 2011 they received the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery.

Since then hundreds of scientists worldwide have jumped in to do the research in the study, production and applications of graphene for all sorts of purposes.

One peculiar fact is that while the rest of the world seems intent in emphasizing the material research and continues to spend a lot of money in trying to produce various forms of graphene, it seems that the United States is slightly lagging behind compared to the rest of the world. This may have something to do with Britain’s closeness with European nations as well as the American scientific community’s delayed response to the discovery.

We must consider graphene research to be of utmost importance from all sorts of applications. Because graphene is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms, and its thickness is just one atom, its potential applications are many. Semiconductors, electrical conductors, capacitors, structural members, just to name a few. If all of the potential applications come true, this civilization will certainly undergo a drastic change within 50 years.

You will find that some things you have always thought impossible will become very possible. A soldiers’ bullet shield that is as light as ordinary shirts, huge capacitors in a tiny package that can power an emergency generator for hours without need for recharge, cars and airplanes that are unimaginably light and strong, etc.

We in the United States should never be late in research effort on graphene. If we fall behind, we will face a catastrophic weakness in the design of military weapons compared with Russia, China and other potentially adversarial nations.

(To be continued.)

Shintaro “Sam” Asano of New Castle, who speaks and writes English as a second language, was named by MIT in 2011 as one of the 10 most influential inventors of the 20th century who improved our life. He is a businessman and an inventor in the field of electronics and mechanical systems, who is credited as the original inventor of today’s portable fax machine. He also developed a data tablet used in the retail point of sale to capture customer signatures when credit cards are used. Write to him at

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