Summertime, Hot Dogs and Innovation
Summertime, Hot Dogs and Innovation
Summertime, Hot Dogs and Innovation

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    Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. Swimming pools open, the end of the school year is nigh and, most importantly, it's the beginning of cook-out season.

    For many people, there's nothing like the taste of chicken, fish or steak, hot dogs or burgers done outside on a grill, along with some roasted corn or other veggies done right beside them.

    So it's worthwhile to pause a moment for the object lesson on innovation and patents that contribute to all of this backyard happiness. We constantly hear the argument about the need to protect “intellectual property,” in some cases forever.

    But the Associated Press has brought us a story that reminds of of the genius of the “limited term” of those protections.

    You can read the story, but the gist is this. Once upon a time, a man named Bill Best developed a new method to dry the paint on cars more quickly. The patent expired seven years ago. Then some enterprising companies saw the benefit of the technology for another application — back yard grills.

    After some development and adaptation, that technology has been adopted by grill makers. The technology has been transformed, Best's company is participating in the development and backyard chefs are becoming more grateful as the prices drop and the dinner heats up. And it happened because a patent expired.