Inventors Digest Jan. 2017

Page 24


Reid Creager: When did you become interested in inventing? Charlie Sauer: I grew up in a Kansas City suburb on the Kansas side and went to school on the Missouri side—William Jewell College, the Harvard of the Midwest. Actually, all liberal-arts colleges in the Midwest make that claim. My mother was able to get an invention into Wal-Mart in the 1990s. The original invention was called the Bo Ball. She was a single mother dreaming on the couch about how she was going to pay the bills and tried to come up with her own pet rock. 24 INVENTORS DIGEST JANUARY 2017

She was a photographer for the Royals, so she had access to Bo Jackson. She couldn’t get him to endorse it but somehow she had already filed the trademark for Bo Ball, so she got awarded a trademark for “Bo” but not “Ball.” This was before Nike came out with the “Bo Knows” campaign. … People actually teach her case in law school now for trademarking of famous people’s names. So I grew up around invention. When I graduated college, I got a gas card and drove out to Washington, D.C., to stay with my aunt out here while I got a job on Capitol Hill. RC: Your bio says you are “known for developing commonsense solutions and effective legislative coalitions.” What, if any, common-sense solutions for the independent inventor are being overlooked? CS: The main one is to solely fund the USPTO by just allowing them to keep all of the fees that they collect. We as a coalition of people fighting for strong patents call that the inventor’s tax. The patent fees come in, and then a portion of them are sequestered, so some of the inventor fees go into the general fund to pay for whatever. That means that the inventor’s money is going to pay for a bridge someplace instead of more patent examiners to help people get inventions out faster. A study came out recently that the longer it takes to get a patent awarded, the less effective that patent is in helping

photos by t he marke t i nsti t ute

Charlie Sauer is one of those people whose work eludes simple characterization. He works on Capitol Hill as an economist, policy specialist and a respected leader who has worked for former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Iowa) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Mo.), as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He’s founder and president of the Market Institute LLC, a small-business limited government advocacy company. He has written congressional testimony and speeches for politicians, business owners and academics. A common thread in all of Sauer’s work is his ongoing effort on Capitol Hill to help inventors. He is committed, articulate and outspoken when necessary. Inventors Digest editor-in-chief Reid Creager asked Sauer about his innovation background and his opinions on current issues in the field.

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