In a recent post What’s (not) an Innovation? we mentioned that an innovation consists of a new combination of
- a function – the innovation has the purpose of satisfying a need
- a principle – there is a mechanism or idea how to deliver that function
- a market – the innovation has a value that can be traded.
But still remains the question:
- When is an innovation really breaking patterns more than other innovations?
- When is an innovation incremental?
- When radical?
- When is a technical solution just more-of-the-same routine engineering?
- What is the difference with a scientific invention?
- When is it patentable?
Valeri Souchkov presented a new classification scheme for solutions or inventions, based on the original classification by Genrich Altshuller.
Principles (scientific discoveries) cannot be patented. The levels of inventions 2 to 4 are patentable. So, a new combination of a principle with a function and a market can patented, regardless the fact that the new combination of principle and function in another market already exists. Below you will find 4 examples of patentable solutions, based on the same principle and the same function, but with different applications. That is to say: fulfilling different needs and as such, serving different markets.
Principle: quickly increasing/decreasing pressure, the Function that is used is to remove things;
- remove seeds from peppers
- remove shells of cedar nuts
- remove sunflower seeds
- remove dust
- splitting imperfect crystals
Actually, in the examples above we see here concept extraction at work, or in other words “How to Search for (Patentable) Ideas”:
- Look for the concept behind an idea (concept= a function and a principle or mechanism)
- Apply the concept to other areas (product/market combinations)
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