We live in a world where inventors are often not recognised while footballers make millions of dollars. This was one of the messages conveyed by Stuart Saunders, an inventor himself, and long-time PCEC member, when he spoke to the Pattaya City Expats Club on Sunday, November 2. Stuart said that many inventors face an uphill struggle marketing their inventions and being adequately remunerated for them. Stuart Saunders is an Australian who has been inventing since the age of 11 (a stereo crystal set). He is a former PCEC Vice-Chairman.
Stuart told the story of John Spinello who invented an electric board game called “Operation.” The object of the game, as explained on the website www.iloveoperation .com, was to insert a metal wand into holes in the top layer of the board without touching the edges of the openings. If you failed to have a steady hand, a buzzer would sound and “startle you with great delight.” In 1964, John Spinello sold his game to an invention firm for $500. Stuart said that the game became very successful, generating profits of $40 million for the manufacturer. But Spinello never received another penny. Fifty years later, Spinello is in need of an “operation” (not the board game, but rather a medical procedure) and is having trouble coming up with the money to pay for it.
Club Member Roger Fox, who keeps his eye out for bargain ship cruises, announces two upcoming cruises that are good bargains that can be found on the website Vacations to Go. Based on his past recommendations several PCEC members have joined Roger on some delightful and economical luxury cruises.
He also told the story of Edwin H. Armstrong, an American who invented FM radio among other things. Armstrong was involved for years in a dispute with RCA concerning his FM radio invention, ultimately resulting in his suicide. He added that the company eventually settled with Armstrong’s widow. Stuart also mentioned an American man who invented a dental flossing device that represented a significant advance in flossing but whose invention was suppressed and dismissed by a media giant with ties to a company that was then a dominant player in the flossing industry; and an Australian man who invented a solution to software piracy, and patented it, and whose invention was promptly stolen by a major software company. The man sued the company for millions of dollars. The case was eventually settled out of court.
Stuart describes his plan for a ‘Pattaya Bypass’ on the east side of Pattaya, free of traffic lights that would provide double the capacity of Sukhumvit Road, with traveling times of 5 minutes from the Floating Market to Highway 7. “A lot of the road already exists,” said Saunders.
Stuart described some of his own inventions, including a suspension system which duplicated the functions of the complicated and expensive Mini rear-end in a single moving part for Minis; a number of differentials and four-wheel drive systems; and a wireless stereo system. Stuart said that Sony representatives expressed considerable interest in the stereo system, but then became impossible to contact; and that the European Patent Office rejected his application for a patent.
While living in Taiwan, Stuart designed a “Yangmingshan MRT Line,” an urban maglev line to serve almost all of Taipei, particularly the least well served areas. For this design, he received the ‘Award for Engineering Excellence’ at the 2013 World Metro Summit in Shang Hai. But although the line would have significantly cut commute times for people going from Yangmingshan to the centre of Taipei, it was never built because of opposition from special interests, including some people in the media.
In July this year, Stuart won bronze, silver and gold medals at Thailand Inventors Day – for Pattaya Bypass (Bronze), FlossFirst (Silver) and the KhaoLarmAtorium (Gold). The KhaoLarmAtorium is a cooker for Khao Larm, the delicious Thai desert of sweet sticky rice and beans with coconut milk, cooked in a length of bamboo. The KhaoLarmAtorium reduces CO2 emission by over 99% by using less than 2kg of fuel vs. the 250kg of coconut husk for the traditional method. Stuart said he is CO2 negative to the order of approximately 10 tonnes per month just because a few friends are using his cooker. For information on Stuart’s Pattaya Bypass proposal, visit the website of the Pattaya Progress Association at http://pattayaprogress.org/roads/pattaya-bypass.html.
Stuart shows some of his many awards for inventions; including selection for the CES Design and Engineering Exhibition twice, the Award for Engineering Excellence at the 2013 World Metro Summit in Shanghai, and Bronze, Silver & Gold Medals at the recent Thailand Inventors Award.
Stuart said that inventors face a lot of obstacles, including (1) the time and money it takes to get an invention to market; (2) a corrupt patent system; (3) companies that steal your inventions; and (4) a patent law that is difficult and expensive to navigate and that doesn’t give inventors a say. “Too many people take inventors for granted,” Stuart said. “If inventors are not allowed to thrive, our planet may become unlivable.” Further, the patent system needs to be reformed.
He concluded his presentation by stating he had prepared a model patent act that he calls the “One Dollar Patent Act 2014.” The Act states that its purpose is “To ensure maximum chance of success for Inventions/ … To allow Inventors to devote maximum assets and energies to realizing a successful Invention, … minimal demands shall be levied on Inventors and their assets by the patent process before commercialization…”
After Stuart’s presentation, MC Richard Silverberg updated everyone on Club activities and upcoming events, then called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.
For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.
Pat Koester reminds PCEC members that the travel agent needs their hotel deposits by November 16 for those signing up for the two day trip to Nakhon Pathon Province on December 2 and 3rd.