google patents. it's better than tv.

One of the misconceptions I had buried in the back of my head, before I started my current dayjob, was that inventions were all, by necessity, clever.

This turns out to be not the case.1 See, in assessing whether something is an invention, there are two main hurdles:2 it must be novel, and it must also be inventive.

Novelty's easy, and fairly self-explanatory. There are some technicalities in terms of what constitutes usable proof, and timing considerations as to who had the idea first etc, but basically it's either been done before, or it's new. Easy.

Inventiveness isn't any more complicated, per se, although it is more subjective. The test for inventiveness is simply: is it obvious?

Pay careful note to that. Something that's unguessably clever is not obvious, yes — but equally, so is something downright stupid.

office consensus is not inventive in light of a porcupine

Actually, I don't know that I'd argue the shark protector suit there is stupid, as such. Let's just say I'm dubious as to whether it's really a better solution than, say, a cage. Which will protect you. The suit itself, so far as I can see, will simply give the shark some nasty scratches while it's giving you some nasty scratches. But maybe that depends on the size of the shark.3

  1. If you want to talk about inventions that see commercial success, that's a whole different conversation. []
  2. There are other hurdles, quite a few of them, but they're less to do with whether it's an invention and more to do with whether the invention is allowable, legally. So for the sake of simplicity… []
  3. That's the other thing with inventions. There's always, always a smaller niche. []

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