My career path

The unusual career path and thoughts of an enthusiastic “average inventor” The unusual career path and thoughts of an enthusiastic “average inventor”

I was born in the early 1930s, into a family with its roots deep in the countryside. In those days, if you did not have enough money, you stopped studying and learnt a trade. It must be said that, fortunately for the economy and social development, “destructive welfare dependency” did not exist.

I consequently acquired skills in manual work, such as boiler making, sheet metal work and welding. Keen on mechanics, and a DIY-er out of necessity, this full set of skills enabled me to entirely renovate a house in the 60s, with help from a bricklayer.

On the strength of this experience and the positive outcome, I continued in a similar vein by building, basically single-handed, but with a labourer, four houses in five years in the early 70s. “Building is a tough, tough life.” (See photos below, taken in June 2003, i.e. 30 years after they were built. Click on them to enlarge.)

There is no choice but to recognise that manual work requires observation, reflection, understanding of the materials to use to obtain the best result, and best suited for the intended use (just as good cooks can also do with the products and ingredients they use). There is a whole culture delivering knowledge and expertise that stimulate and stoke up the inventive imagination.

Building may be tough, but the career of an independent inventor is even tougher. Inventing often requires years of hard work, expenditure and tenacity. With a great deal of luck, an SME might agree to use your invention, when it is for a “niche”, a small market, which limits the risks for the SME in view of the costs involved.

If these patented inventions were distributed to French companies, and if French companies were less reluctant to accept inventions by independent inventors, it would probably be more beneficial for our economy and social development than seeing inventors forced to look to foreign countries and grant them a licence or concession to exploit their patents

As regards inventions offering the prospect of a substantial market, big companies through their “elitism”, and the large distribution firms (probably in thrall to shareholders’ decisions), typically ignore the inventions of independent inventors. Perhaps too because most of the originators of inventions and/or patents have a technical and/or manual background.

When the market is too large, the inventor or the SME manufacturer of the inventor’s patented product would ideally sell the patent (for a reasonable price) so as to concentrate on producing another invention, as most creative individuals do. This is particularly true of writers and composers, whose costs are 10 times, 100 times or indeed 1,000 times smaller, and who furthermore are fortunate enough to collect royalties for life, followed by their heirs for 70 years after the writer or composer dies! In addition, they also have the advantage of being very well supported legally.

As regards copyright infringement, the rule of law is different under current legislation from patent infringement and much more advantageous for the victims of the infringement: the copyright holders may be compensated by the confiscation and awarding to them of all or part of the infringer’s revenue (Article L. 335-6 of the French Intellectual Property Code).

According to the French magazine for inventors, FNAFI INFO issue no. 39 from June 2007, in a section on PATENT LITIGATION IN FRANCE, written by Georges Monestrol, the illegal earnings generated from counterfeiting are often much higher than the rights holders’ loss of earnings. So if the lost earnings equal 1 and the illegal earnings of the infringer equal 10, the court awards compensation of 1 to the victim of the counterfeiting and, after the sentence, the infringer keeps 9/10 of the illegal earnings! (Article 1382 of the French Civil Code.) There are double standards at work.

Faced with such aberrations, intentional or otherwise, it is easy to understand why companies are hesitant to get involved in patent applications and exploitation.

Precautionary principle: The secretary of state for ecology reiterates that the precautionary principle is an opening to a future economy, a vast global market, that it is necessary to innovate in this area and to protect innovations by means of patents (Grenelle environmental round table, October 2007).

There are nearly three million SMEs in France. Thanks to their expertise, highly-skilled staff, and their flexibility in adapting to the manufacture of new products, these SMEs are very competitive internationally, “despite what we are constantly being told” (innovate, file patents!), given PATENT LITIGATION IN FRANCE, SMEs and independent inventors are discouraged, in a discriminatory and, to say the least, absurd way, from taking risks. This situation, which has long been the case in France, and which seems likely to continue, has been and still remains highly damaging to France’s economy and social development, especially when SMEs happen to relocate, they move to another part of France, or another location in Europe, but not to the other end of the world as large corporations are able to do.

The important thing above all else is to be able to use the potential of possibilities that every person intrinsically has. This is never entirely easy, but is always positive and rewarding. Sandwich courses for all, from 15 or 16 years of age, would give some insight into working life (as is already done in some countries the results of which are reflected in a strong economy), would improve social development, and considerably reduce unemployment and idleness. Facing reality in different fields in this way would give them an insight into each person’s potential adaptability and would expand their versatility. Spending one week a month in different companies, making about a year out of five, would probably be more beneficial than any form of military, civil or civic service. In other words, a sandwich course that could fill not only some of the educational gaps, but also some of the ignorance of manual work (if certificates really are necessary, they should be awarded for common sense and logic too).

The “cathedral builders” and others were not strictly speaking intellectuals, but they did posses common sense, logic, creativity, general knowledge and great manual skills. They bequeathed us a rich legacy visited by large numbers of tourists every year, plus a significant heritage exhibited in museums, from primitive art to contemporary art.

A country like France cannot afford to neglect the potential value that each person is carrying. Hands-on training is vital and versatility is inevitable because globalisation will leave no opportunities for people lacking in either qualifications or adaptability.

Raymond Denancé (2007)