Friday 17 January 2020

Building a Better Mousetrap - Visit to M-SParc on 27 Jan

Jane Lambert

"Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door".  That saying is attributed mistakenly to Ralph Waldo Emerson; It is a misquotation. According to Wikipedia Build a Better Mousetrap etcEmerson's actual words were:
"If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods."
Nevertheless, the saying appears to have been taken seriously for the same article adds:
"The phrase has turned into a metaphor about the power of innovation and is frequently taken literally, with more than 4,400 patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for new mousetraps, with thousands more unsuccessful applicants, making them the "most frequently invented device in U.S. history."
There seems to be some truth in that.  There is a YouTube channel in the USA called Mousetrap Monday with 1.23 million subscribers that tests different types of mousetrap.

I am not sure what could count as a "better mousetrap" because every type of rodent control seems to inflict suffering.  According to the RSPCA Living with Rats and Mice, spring traps do not always kill outright, poison induces haemorrhaging, beasts caught in glue traps have been known to tear off their fur or even bite through their limbs in futile efforts to break free and even live traps can be cruel because released rodents have a very low survival rate. Many starve or freeze to death because they cannot find food or shelter in a new environment or they fall prey to other animals including other members of their species.  Rats and mice may be dangerous, destructive and indeed disgusting creatures that have to be controlled by lethal measures, but that is no excuse for inflicting more pain on those beings than is absolutely necessary.

If despite everything that I have just said, you have somehow invented a better mousetrap or, indeed, some other new product or process it is imperative that you keep your trap shut (no pun intended) until you are ready to commercialize it.  The reason for secrecy is that patents are granted only for inventions that are new. If you tell everybody how to make or use the invention then it is no longer new,  is it?  You may need to disclose your invention to a potential collaborator or investor but you must be careful to do that only in confidence and that's where I can help you.  On Monday, 27 Jan 2020 at 12:00 I shall be talking about trade secrets. confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements at the Menai Science Park (M-SParc) on Anglesey and you can find out all you need to know about that topic by registering for the event through Eventbrite.

As usual, I shall stay at the science park until 17:00 to discuss any issues that tenants of the science park or other local businesses may have.  If anybody wants to book a slot, call 020 7404 5252 and ask any of the clerks for an appointment.   Alternatively, just fill in the "Initial Advice and Signposting" form below.

My visit takes off immediately after Burns Night which remembers one of the world's greatest poets.  Among his most popular poems is "To a Mouse".  Having watched some of the videos on Mousetrap Monday I can't help thinking of the second verse of that poem:
"I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion
An’ fellow-mortal!"
Should any of my readers find themselves in  Southwest Scotland, I strongly recommend a visit to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.  One of my favourite parts of the museum is the Poet's Path that contains a statue of the ‘Wee sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,"  In the photo above there is a picture of my shaking paws hands with it.  Not so "wee" this particular "beastie," I think you'll agree.  Burns also wrote "Auld lang syne" and although we are well into January this is my first opportunity to wish my readers a Happy New Year or. if they prefer,  Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

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