A Good Time to Innovate?

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I read an article a few weeks ago in The Daily Telegraph which claimed that during the lockdown patent attorneys are reporting that they have never been busier with a surge in new applications being written. I originally found this somewhat surprising, but then I thought about why this might be:

  • There are lots of people with time on their hands. Many people are either furloughed or have unfortunately been made unemployed. It is possible that a number of these people have been ‘sitting on’ an innovation for many years and now they have the time to pursue it
  • Business models are changing. Many businesses that were profitable in the old, non-socially distanced world, are not likely to be viable if social distancing is enforced. These businesses are likely going to need to innovate if they are going to survive
  • New opportunities are arising. Many will believe that things have changed: home working, video conferencing, online grocery deliveries are all likely to be considerably more popular even after this crisis is over. This leads to opportunities to innovate for those with a solution in these areas and who think that they are first to recognise these changes

Being a scientist by training and naturally sceptical, I decided to do my own primary research to test this out and ask my ~100 1st level LinkedIN connections who are practicing patent attorneys with they were busy and whether they had seen a surge in work. I would say that overall, the answer was yes. A couple said that they were busy in late March and April and it has now quietened down again whereas a few just said that they “had never been busier".

It is not clear what will happen in the coming months, how many of these newly filed patent applications will grant or how many of those will become a commercial success (usually only a very small percentage of all patent applications), but one thing is clear, human ingenuity knows no bounds. There is no situation that can put down the human race’s ability to innovate, innovate and move forwards.

© Ian Goodyer, 2020. Used with permission by Ideas Portal