Patently Obvious

The rules about what can--and cannot--be patented may soon change

5 min read

Engineers design and build things every day. But where do you cross the line that divides simply combining existing technologies for their obvious purposes and inventing something really new?

Exactly where you stand in a given situation often depends on whether you already have a relevant patent. Patent owners naturally want their patents to cover as much territory as possible, while would-be inventors want to be restricted as little as possible by someone else’s ­patent monopoly.

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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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