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August 24, 2006
Respect! Honor! Recognition! All For $149.95!
Turns out that I had another patent issued the other day. The way I usually find out about these things isn't through a note from the US Patent and Trademark Office - they have enough to do already. And it's not via a note from my company, although they do eventually mark the event in a way that's dear to my heart and which shows up in my paycheck. No, the quickest notification is via junk mail from the patent plaque companies.
If you're not in an industry that does a lot of patenting, you might not have run across these people. What they do is offer (for a price, naturally) a wall plaque to show off your patent. These come in all sorts of designs and combinations - just Google the phrase "patent plaques" and you'll get all the options you could ever need. It's a competitive business, and the real go-getters use the latest updates to the patent databases as their mailing lists.
What I find interesting is the language that the brochures use. They seem aimed at people with self-esteem issues. The words "respect" and "recognition" occur frequently, as do "accomplishment" and "achievement". Einstein and Edison come up more often than they do in normal conversation. The more expensive options (better-looking wood, more three-dimensional etching in the metal, what have you) are pitched to some hypothetical audience of demanding achievers who would clearly settle for nothing less. The general tone of the copy is similar to the ads you find in airline in-flight magazines, set relentlessly to a level that's designed to flatter the intended audience and play to their fantasies.
Many of the pitches thus seem to be aimed at individual inventors who have been issued their first patent and want to let everyone know about it. I'm sure that's a big part of the market, and the rest of it is probably taken up by large companies who get a discount on their orders for their employees. I have a stack of the things myself, given to me by the companies I've worked for. I don't mind having them, but they're not on my wall, and I'd never order one on my own - not least because you can't get anything out of these outfits for less than about $70 for the El Cheapo Maximo model. The Deluxe Edisonian Hyperventilator plaques can go up past $300, by which time you're looking at rich Corinthian leather and who knows what else. I await the future LCD-screen option that displays a moving model of the invention.
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