Unmet Need Illustrated by Fast Company’s Article on Pikarski
Unmet Need Indicates Patentability
Showing that an invention satisfies an unmet need bolsters an inventor’s case that the invention is patentable. To be patentable, an invention must be both new and not obvious. To be “new,” the invention must differ from anything done before. This test for “new” is fairly simple—any difference makes the invention new. The test for non-obviousness is less straightforward. To be “not obvious,” the invention must provide a nontrivial advance beyond the prior art.
Evidence that an invention satisfies an unmet need support the position that the invention is patentable. Solving an unmet need indicates that an invention provides a significant contribution to a technology space. Accordingly, showing that the invention fulfilled an unmet indicates that it was not obvious. Think about it: Existing needs do not linger long in an age where people seek to develop profitable solutions to those problems. If the solution were obvious, someone would sell it.
Chaim Pikarski Satisfies Unmet Needs
Recently Fast Company Magazine published article about Chaim Pikarski. In short, Mr. Pikarski and his team scour Amazon.com for evidence of any unmet need. According to Fast Company, Mr. Pikarski “has an entire team of people who read reviews on Amazon, looking for moments when people say ‘I wish this speaker were rechargeable.’” This entire team searches for “features people wish a product had” then they design and make the desired version.
Mr. Pikarski’s genius lies in his recognition that commercial sites like Amazon are “actually giant laboratories.” Within the virtual walls of these laboratories, Mr. Pikarski “figures out what features consumers want, and then produces them.” His spirt for making new, better products rings true in his exclamation: “Hey, wait a minute, we’re producing all these products—let’s innovate! Let’s design!”
Unfortunately, Mr. Pikarski’s genius does not yet appear to extend to appreciating the patentability of his innovations.
Satisfying and Unmet Need = Inventing Patentable New Stuff
According to Fast Company Magazine, “Pikarski often talks of his products as if they’re hilariously obvious.” Mr. Pikarski’s genus is exceeded only by his modesty: “There’s nothing innovative about it,” he says.
Nothing innovative about it? To the contrary, satisfying unmet needs is about as close to the definition of “innovative” as a person can get. In the months that follow, I hope that I can find Mr. Pikarski and help him make some more money by using the patent system to protect his inventions. He should claim these inventions so that he can own the products that he creates.