(Nov. 14, 2008) — I am writing regarding Robert Grace's column “Inventing our way out of recession” [Nov. 10, Page 6].
“Invent, baby, invent” is just feel-good thinking unless we change the way we view and do business in America. What good is an invention if you can't protect it in a flat world? Even after you file your U.S. patent, you have to file a patent in up to 72 countries to have real “global” protection. Research and development, legal and translation fees plus patent annuity payments and international litigation make “invention” a big-company game.
Most big companies don't give a rap about Americans — just “shareholder value.” Arcane intellectual property issues such as the American patent concept of “first-to-invent” are under pressure to harmonize to Japanese and European “first-to-file” practices. Once you publish or try to sell your idea, it's gone.
OK, so you can afford to patent and prosecute your magical additive, which regenerates recycled to virgin, or allows true polymer biodegradability or makes plastics processing faster, better, stronger and cheaper. But you can't sell it! Why? It must first be registered in about seven different countries' environmental inventory lists with toxicology protocols that cost as much as $150,000.
OK, so you can afford the toxicology costs to get your additive listed under U.S., European Union, Canadian and Japanese environmental regulations. But you still can't sell it! Try selling an additive into Japan. You need a partner — a joint venture — like sex with a black widow spider. Keiretsu, chaebols, mercantile, state and socialistic capitalistic systems are the unfair and unlevel part of “free trade.”
Our U.S. government and its politicians have to start talking in positive ways about words such as “business,” “plastic,” and “chemicals.” “Drill, baby, drill” means to me “Money, baby, money” here and not there, which means we can tell another country to take a hike if they're screwing us. What's with the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. having to lobby to get China to float the yuan? And then the bill dies in the Senate? I guess we can't upset our Chinese friends who hold our bonds. Oh sure, invent and be at a 35 percent price disadvantage on monetary policy going into the world's fastest-growing market.
Salvatore J. Monte
Kenrich Petrochemicals Inc.