Live Patent Auctions Tantalize Inventors

Mixed results leave attendees heartened but not sold

5 min read

A day before the 19 April auction, Bob Pilley, a self-proclaimed ”sparky,” sat at a bland white table in a hotel convention room in Chicago. In front of him, a television showed a video describing the grisly details of Comair Flight 3272, which crashed in 1997 en route to Detroit, killing 29 people.

”Do you remember Tenerife? That’s why we’re doing this,” Pilley said. In 1977, two planes collided on a foggy runway in the Canary Islands, killing 583 people. Pilley, an electrical engineer and independent inventor, rattled through his standard pitch. He was trying to stir up interest in a group of patents he owned that apply Global Positioning System (GPS) and mapping displays to airplanes and airport facilities. The following day, his patents would be auctioned off by Ocean Tomo, a Chicago-based company that specializes in financial services relating to intellectual property.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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