Invention in the legal sense of the term is defined as the idea or conception of an idea or invention by an individual or group. Inventors are generally those who provide the creativity required to create an idea. An idea is not considered to be “invented” until a physical form is created with the physical aid of tools and/or materials. However, it is possible for an idea to be both the product of many joint inventors, at times referred to as co-in inventors, and at other times, to be the product of a single inventor.
For example, consider a pair of scissors that meeting in order to allow the “tooth comb” scissors to work properly. Each pair of scissors has a joint that enables it to function properly when placed in position. Thus, each pair of scissors is technically considered to be an original creation of the person or group that created it – and, therefore, their ownership and right to their idea is clearly established in the legal sense of the term. One could thus argue that the “invention” involved here is not truly an invention at all because the product is simply a variation or “improvement” upon existing products.
Similarly, when one considers that many “innovators” are later “inventions” which turn out to have tremendous market-share value, it is clear that the line between inventor and invention is a rather fluid one. What one innovates and builds up to become a new invention, may have been conceived by another earlier innovator, in addition to having been conceived by another earlier innovator. Thus, it can be easy for an inventor to claim, for example, that they “invented” the electric shaver, when, in actuality, someone else had already come up with an improved version long before they came up with the electric shaver.
One of the problems with defining what constitutes an “invention,” or in other words, an innovation, is that it can be difficult to decide what counts as a great invention, and what does not. Unfortunately, great inventors like Noah Webster are often tasked with defining these terms, as every single invention is unique in some way. Thus, it becomes necessary for them to choose their own criteria for what makes a great invention. Often, this leads to a split between great inventors, who tend to view their inventions in terms of conceptual beauty, and lesser inventors who often focus more on utility, practicality, or profit.
However, defining what makes an invention a great one is not quite as simple. After all, each and every invention have its place in history. For example, one of the greatest contributions to the world by man, the electric light, has been around for ages. In fact, many people today rely on electricity to operate their homes, businesses, and cars. So, while it is true that certain inventions have shaped the technological landscape to a large extent, the lasting impact of those inventions, such as the electric light, cannot be simply attributed to creativity and ingenuity.
Additionally, as time passes, more inventions are created, and as these inventions become more commonplace, they become harder to patent. As a result, many times inventors do not get their “million dollar” right away, and their “one time deal” with technology is quickly eroded away. This has caused many smaller inventors to go into business for themselves, searching for new markets and inventive ways to use the knowledge they have accumulated over the years. In this way, the true great inventors are not necessarily the ones who create the most technically advancing products, but the ones who turn those products into tomorrow’s mainstream products.