We've been doing a lot of reading at Way Better Patents. Here are some of our finds for the start of the new year.
Biology Is Technology by Robert H. Carlson
Anyone who seeks to understand the world of synthetic biology and how it is about to change medicine, biofuels, pharma and the personalized medicine of should read this one. In the patentsphere, convergence is king. Biotech and bioengineering is convergence on steroids. If you have been living in the info tech computer space you'll understand the the parallels Biology Is Technology draws between the emergence of the methods, processes, and technologies that surround the emerging BioBlock approach to invention and the development of the semiconductor and its modular design. This one pairs nicely with The Cure is in the Code – How 20th Century Law is Undermining 21st Century Medicine by Peter Huber if you want to understand the scientific and regulatory impact of bioengineering on how we invent and innovate.
Boom Towns — Restoring the Urban American Dream by Stephen Walters
We heard Stephen Walters' talk about his book at the Cato Institute. Dr. Walters focused on how property rights help spur growth in America's cities. We like this book because it has all the things that we love — lots of solid data and analysis, a serious look at where growth and quality jobs come from, and why property rights matter. As fans of patents and property rights of all kinds and students of how strong property rights drive growth and vibrant cities, after all innovation is still an intensely local affair, we found this book instructive.
The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson is an engaging writer who tells the stories of the great inventions that got us to where we are now — in the midst of a digital revolution and the informationization of innovation. This is another great read on the mechanics and dynamics of how innovation happens. Oh, and there are a few good patent fights in there too.For a great one-two punch on the emergence of the information economy read The Innovators and The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick. We love them both.
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram
This one answers important questions — where do new ideas and innovation come from? US Air Force Colonel Boyd was a fighter pilot, and the thought leader behind the F-15 and F-16 and the advocate of simpler fighter design of the recently retired A-10. Boyd may eventually rank with Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist and author of The Art of War,mandatory reading for business people and IP strategists; and ahead of Carl von Clausewitz the Prussian strategist, in the pantheon of military tacticians and strategists. It's also an interesting study on innovation by the Defense Department.
Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
We couldn't resist adding this one even though it's been all over the place and there isn't a patent in sight. We're sure that there are plenty of business methods patents floating around somewhere in this yarn. Aside from Michael Lewis' ability to write about complex financial business and the world of high frequency trading in a way that reads like a spicy novel, we like this one because it reminds us of those aha moments when you figure out what the honorable competition is up to. It is also provides some real insight into how oversharing on social media can be used to do some serious competitive analysis and unearthing of trade secrets.
Inventions That Didn't Change the World by Julie Halls
This one arrived with the Christmas gifts and some lines about it being the perfect gift for patent geeks. It's the story of nineteenth century innovation taken from the patent and design documents in the British Archives. Reading the "Preliminary Remarks" section, a new take on the introduction, we came across the following line,
By the first half of the nineteenth century the patent system had become hopelessly expensive and inefficient, giving rise to a vociferous reform movement...We heard by the first half of the twenty first century the patent system has become hopelessly expensive and inefficient, giving rise to a vociferous reform movement.... Deja vu. The illustrations are beautiful and the historical context reminds us that invention is about finding a better way.