"I like fiery passion, actually." - Olympus
Question #92728 posted on 10/25/2019 6:48 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

During my Wikipedia surfing, I read about an author named Margaret Atwood who is credited with the invention of the "LongPen," which is basically a tablet with a drawing app connected to the Internet connected to a robotic hand so that one can remotely sign documents.

My question: for you personally to consider someone to have invented something, what of the following do you consider to be critical and what do you consider to be possible to remove and still consider the person to have invented it?

* You came up with the sentence "What if we made an app that controlled a robotic hand and stuck a pen in the hand?"

* You specified the computer program and the electronics of the hand to actually make a working prototype.

* You have no idea how to actually make it but you pay a smart person to do it for you.

* You pay a patent lawyer to take your words "What if we made an app that controlled a robotic hand and stuck a pen in the hand?" into the right legalese for the patent document.

-Fred

A:

Dear Fred, 

I personally consider "You specified the computer program and the electronics of the hand to actually make a working prototype." and "You have no idea how to actually make it but you pay a smart person to do it for you." both as the definition of invention. The other two are steps to the conception of the invention and of the copyright of an invention, but there are a lot of things that go into making a working prototype, and that is the real way to invent something. I think the better way to look at this is by asking who is responsible or is to be accredited to the invention as the inventor. Many people have conceived time travel, yet the person who makes it happen will be the inventor.

-Spooklings

P.S. If I'm wrong, I claim all copyright to time travel

A:

Dear Fred,

Maybe I'm wrong here, but my gut reaction is that there are a lot of instances where it’s hard to honestly credit one person with an invention. Most innovation is accomplished over the course of many iterations, and with the help of a lot of people.

...Oh, that's a cop-out answer? Okay, okay.

If I had to pick, I think that the second statement ("You specified the computer program and electronics of the hand to actually make a working prototype") is the most indicative that someone is worthy of credit for the invention. Like Inklings said, lots of people can dream things up, but an invention is not actually invented until someone has done the technical work to create it. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'm heavily biased, because learning how to do that kind of work is my entire major.)

Best,

Josefina