Inventor’s Lingo Again

One of the best exercises in creativity is naming conventions within a design team. Every project gets a name, ostensibly to give an excuse to have some team shirts produced and give the management a rallying cry for the troops, but the real fun is down in the trenches.

Having spent a considerable number of years in the design trenches, I can personally attest that the most creative portions of the invention process are the names of various components.

On one production line for disk drives, the repair station was known as the Shopsmith because it could do many different functions. Another fixture was called Elvis, merely because no one could come up with a better name for it. A vibration isolation mechanism was nicknamed the Indy Car because it was first described as working like the integral jacking system for a race car during a pit stop.

The creativity only increased as the details became smaller. Rather than naming a part “Inner Wall,” I would call it the “T-Bone” because of its T-shape. Having no other name for a custom designed connector, a co-worker named it the Russ Connector. These names were sometimes comical and sometimes quasi-functional. The amazing thing was how ingrained they would become in the entire culture of the company as well as anyone who worked with the products. My name would be quite disparaged when problems were encountered with the Russ Connector, but I was famous at our subcontractor long before I ever visited.

The Inventor’s Lingo can be an absolute disaster for patent applications, however. As I explained in a previous post, using an inventor’s shorthand can lead to horrific consequences if the fundamental underpinnings of the invention are not understood. The inventor labels certain things for whatever reason, sometimes whimsy, but often times just for a name. It is easy to assume that the name implies something, when often time it implies little or nothing. It is up to the patent attorney to understand the invention and not just take what the inventor told him.