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Jerome H. Lemelson

From Academic Kids

Jerome "Jerry" Hal Lemelson (July 18, 1923 Staten Island, New York - October 1, 1997) was a prolific and controversial American inventor and patent holder.

He was granted over 550 patents, making him one of the 20th century's five most prolific inventors. Lemelson received an average of one patent a month for more than 40 years, for high-tech concepts that translated into automated warehouses, industrial robots, cordless telephones, fax machines, videocassette recorders, camcorders and the magnetic tape drive used in Sony's Walkman tape players.

He was also famous for his controversial use of submarine patents to extract over one billion dollars from major corporations in a variety of industries. Through the filing of a succession of continuation applications, he was able to postpone by years the publication and grant of his patents, to finally take the industry by surprise when one of his patents was published. In 2004, Lemelson's estate was defeated in a notable court case involving Cognex Corporation, which sought (and received) a ruling that Lemelson's machine vision patents were unenforceable [1] (http://www.ipww.com/texts/lemelson0304.html) [2] (http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/careers/careerstemplate.jsp?ArticleId=i050202).

Lemelson Foundation and Prize

Lemelson was a strong proponent of the independent inventor, and used a large percentage of his wealth to found the Lemelson Foundation, whose mission is to "promote and encourage inventors in the United States and in the developing world".

The Lemelson-MIT Prize, endowed in 1994 by Jerome Lemelson is awarded to inventors from the United States for outstanding achievement. The winner receives $500,000, making it the largest invention prize. The Lemelson Foundation also supports the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Innovation and Invention at the Smithsonian museum, among other programs.

References

  • "Breaking the (Bar) Code. The fabled Lemelson patents won't scan anymore. How Jesse Jenner brought down a billion dollar licensing empire.", by Susan Hansen, IP Law & Business/March 2004 [3] (http://www.ipww.com/texts/lemelson0304.html)
  • "Dead Patents Walking Loopholes in the patent process exploited by Jerome Lemelson, one of the most prolific inventors of all time, may be finally closing in on him", by William F. Heinze, Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer, and Risley, IEEE Spectrum [4] (http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/careers/careerstemplate.jsp?ArticleId=i050202)

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