The Reward of Invention
One of the advantages claimed for capitalism is that it acts as an incentive to inventors. This claim disregards the fact that generally inventors are too poor to patent their inventions, or to purchase the plant and machinery necessary for their manufacture. An example of the inventor’s reward is the case of Jean Leroy, who is credited with having invented the film projector which made possible the motion picture industry. Failure to patent his invention 38 years ago lost him untold wealth, and during his latter years he made his living out of a small camera repair shop within a stone’s throw of Broadway’s immense picture palaces, where millions have been made from his invention. He has now died in poor circumstances at the age of 78. Leroy said, “I did not patent my invention because I did not realise what I had, and was ignorant of the patent laws. Like the average inventor, I centred my interest on the solution of the problem I had in mind.” (News-Chronicle, 11/8/32.) Leroy’s reply provides a complete answer to those who think that inventors are spurred on by hope of material gain.