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Friday, December 20, 2013

“Describe your patent”

The company I retired from (but still consult for) had a low-key Christmas party in the company cafeteria yesterday: some beer and wine and snacks, a cover band – and then a few words from the CEO.

Those who had a patent approved this year were warned that there would be some patent recognition during the CEO’s talk, and I did have a patent approved this year. So I was ready for that. It was one of the reasons I came in on Thursday this week.

As CEOs do, he went on a bit too long for the audience – which was drinking eating and socializing prior to the CEOs talk, and wanted to get back to doing just that. So the audience seemed to hope the patent recognition would go quickly. 

A plaque was ready for the first recipient.  “Alberto A____”.

“He’s in Italy”. And, indeed, Alberto is always in Italy, He’s Italian and works for the division in Italy.

“Andrea B____”

“He’s in Italy, too.”

This was not going well. Two recipients, two no-shows.

“Cheryl B____”

“She’s on vacation. In Cleveland”. The audience found the notion of going on vacation to Cleveland mildly amusing.

“Craig C___”

“He’s on vacation.” 

By now, the CEO was wondering about this, but kept going. “Brad G____”

Brad wasn’t there, either. Now it was my turn. “Mike K___”

I has positioned myself near the front, so it wouldn’t take long to get up there.  And they gave me a plaque for the patent. The plaque had Craig C___’s name on it because mine hadn’t arrived yet, but having found somebody who was actually there meant they certainly were going to hand out a plaque.  I posed so they could take a picture – but then I realized the photographer was elsewhere.

The CEO then handed me a microphone asked me to explain the patent to the audience. Actually explaining the patent would have been long and tedious. Explaining it was part of “project X” would just bring up sore wounds, since our new owners turned down the funding to implement “project X”. And turned it down three times. And so I said:

“You know what they say. If I could explain it, it wouldn’t be patentable.”  -- which was short and got a laugh.

When the next recipient came up, the CEO said “after that last explanation, I’m not going to ask for any more patent explanations.”  Which was just as well – the bar re-opened sooner that way.