back to article British clockwork radio boffin Trevor Baylis terminally winds down

Trevor Baylis, one of Britain's most well-loved inventors and the creator of the clockwork radio that was designed to save lives in the developing world, has died at the age of 80 after battling Crohn's disease. Baylis led an interesting life but became famous after inventing an ingenious wind-up radio that he was inspired to …

  1. ashdav

    Men In Sheds

    An awful lot of things have been invented in sheds in Britain over the years and plagiarised by others.

    Kudos to the man.

    RIP Trevor

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Men In Sheds

      Have an upvote for 'Men in Sheds'.

      These provide a great place for shall we say older men to get together and do stuff together. At mine, we chew the fat and actually make stuff. At the moment it is 50 Bat Boxes.

      I'll be demoing my PDP-8 replica in a few weeks. (thats the IT Interest.)

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: Men In Sheds

        Seconded,

        The "retired" engineers volunteering (almost certainly in sheds) for http://www.remap.org.uk/ have come up with a great gadget for assisting my mother-in-law, that works zips one-handed after she lost the use of her left side following a stroke.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan

        Re: Men In Sheds

        At the moment it is 50 Bat Boxes

        You have a box that fits 50 bats? How do you keep them flying out?

        1. Pseudonymous Clown Art

          Re: Men In Sheds

          I wonder how many mAh his bat box is? Does it work with the Thinkpad power bridge?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Men In Sheds

        50 bats per box, or 50 boxes in which a chap could neatly organise his 50 bats?

        Also, if you have 50+ bats to test with, I'm calling it, Bruce Wayne detected. His bat-shed-cave is full of bats. You have a lot of bats. I'm no fool.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Men In Sheds

      A proper boffin - if ever there was a stereotypical one.

  2. K

    Not enough of his kind - original, authentic and giving the world solutions..

    RIP ..

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A legend in my humble opinion and I don't hand that moniker out very often. RIP

  4. Paul

    Sad news. BBC news really positive about his life, and showing him meeting Mandela and others, but failed to mention he was ripped off.

    1. goldcd

      Maybe not the time to bring it up, so I'll keep it short.

      I don't think he was ripped off. Springs, dynamos, radios - none of them new, just packaged together.

      I don't see adding a battery as being a rip-off workaround, more a sensible evolution of chucking together existing ideas - holds more power, runs longer, smaller and cheaper.

      Even the idea of a human powered radio wasn't new - the Aussies had one that you could transmit with in the 1920s.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Maybe not the time to bring it up, so I'll keep it short.

        "Even the idea of a human powered radio wasn't new - the Aussies had one that you could transmit with in the 1920s."

        Yes, I remember seeing old war films, possibly set in some Pacific islands, and one guy hand cranking a pair of cranks while another operates the radio. Trevors twist was to wind a spring, have an efficient generator and low powered components. Sadly, he didn't have a team of US patent lawyers fluent and experienced in woolly and wide ranging patentese.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Maybe not the time to bring it up, so I'll keep it short.

          >Sadly, he didn't have a team of US patent lawyers fluent and experienced in woolly and wide ranging patentese.

          Neither did he sell the patents to a "patent troll" who would have pursued making similar or potentially derivative products for licencing fees.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Maybe not the time to bring it up, so I'll keep it short.

          Sony had a 1960s transistor tape recorder with spring drive. A German company in early 1950s had a spring drive valve tape recorder. Though both used batteries for electronics.

          German portable valve radios had NiCd rechargeable cells for LT before WWII. Before 1938 most portable sets had a lead acid battery (plastic and gel types existed from early 1930s).

          A patent, copyright or registered design can't and shouldn't prevent achieving the same aim by different means. Actually US companies since Edison have used patents and lawyers to prevent valid competition, too broad patents, or ignored prior art or applied wrong by the court. Very many patents are not really valid and only used by rich companies to stop new entrants or have a cartel.

          The idea of hand cranked electronics and rechargeable cells was over 50 years old in 1990s. The idea of storing energy in a spring was 100s of years old. Once a market was demonstrated for a cranked transistor radio, then even Apple couldn't have stopped alternate implementations.

          You can't patent or copyright a basic concept / idea. It would kill innovation if you could.

          Baylis was a wonderful entrepreneur and inventor. But for size & weight the idea of a cell and motor (cranked or pull cord) is better than a spring, which still needs a motor as the generator. My pull cord recharged LED torch with a solar panel is nice.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Prior art

            As the previous poster notes all the parts were there and had been used together. Even I had made a wind up radio for Craft, Design and Technology 'O' level. When I spoke to the patent office, (I had an acquaintance there who had given me the heads-up) I was told that Trevor would never get a patent for the radio. When it was granted I was too penniless to fight it, but I was surprised that the examining board, amongst others, didn't.

            Anonymous, as I really admire everything else he stood for.

            1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

              Re: Prior art

              The important bit was the lack of a battery. Charging a cheap NiCd from a hand-crank is easy - but it has two problems:

              1) The NiCd soon wears out with the poor charge management

              2) With the idea that they would be used in quantity in Developing countries, that's a lot of waste NiCds to poison the environment.

              The clever bit was using a short-circuit to show the spring down to regulate the output voltage. I've googled for a circuit diagram, but the web has no mention of the details

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Prior art

                "2) With the idea that they would be used in quantity in Developing countries, that's a lot of waste NiCds to poison the environment."

                And that was Trevors primary aim. To get comms into 3rd world countries where access to power was limited, expensive or simply not possible. He massively raised awareness of the problem of getting information into the rural 3rd world and was probably quite pleased underneath it all that others were now taking more notice of how to help those areas with simple and cheap tech. Sometimes it just takes a small spark of an idea to do a lot of good, but something needs to bring the tinkers attention to where the idea is needed.

            2. SEPAM

              Re: Prior art

              >When I spoke to the patent office, (I had an acquaintance there who had given me the heads-up) I was told that Trevor would never get a patent for the radio. When it was granted I was too penniless to fight it, but I was surprised that the examining board, amongst others, didn't.

              Really, was it granted? Checking UKIPO I find this entry:

              Status Terminated before grant

              Also I see he had 5 documents cited against his application. It would seem the Examiner was more competent than most forum members give them credit for.

        3. SEPAM

          Re: Maybe not the time to bring it up, so I'll keep it short.

          >Sadly, he didn't have a team of US patent lawyers fluent and experienced in woolly and wide ranging patentese.

          On the other hand he used a patent law firm that, according to the ranking lists, is notable. Do you have anything to tell us about the patent law firm he engaged?

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Maybe not the time to bring it up, so I'll keep it short.

        I have to agree that his expectations of wealth were too lofty. Generators already existed. He added a spring and got a patent. Somebody else changed the governor and got a patent. Somebody adds a battery and gets a patent. Another hack made a salt and metal powered radio. You have to keep making improvements keep the money flowing. His electric shoe must have frustrated a hundred other inventors who tried the same trick but decided that such a poorly performing device needs more work before jumping to patents, media, and gathering investors.

      3. Doctor Evil

        Re: Maybe not the time to bring it up, so I'll keep it short.

        Letters, words - "none of them new, just packaged together."

        Shakespeare, Shelley, Byron - just a bunch of repackagers. Nothing new there, merely a "sensible evolution of chucking together existing ideas".

        Kudos to Mr. Baylis for his own "repackaging" -- more than the vast majority of his critics could manage, I daresay.

    2. Roj Blake

      Re: BBC News

      Radio 4's PM had a piece on him that did explain how his radio patent was circumvented.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is very sad news. An inspirational man, whose latter years unfortunately are not an inspiration for those minded to invent things for a living.

    I met him once at the NEC in Birmingham, some tech show or other, at the height of his fame for his clockwork radio. He was selling them like hot cakes. I bought one, still got it, very useful it is too.

  6. OffBeatMammal

    true national treasures

    It's sad that the UK (and others) give more praise and adoration to ephemeral sportsmen and pop acts than folks like Mr Baylis who only get recognition in their obituary, long after it is of any help.

    BTW in Australia where I now live there is a nationwide Mens Sheds initiative - http://www.mensheds.org.au/

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ripped off by big business and lawyer scum

    Fucking typical

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Should be cheaper to protect your idea...

    ...costs an arm and a leg to be an inventor if you want to protect your inventions adequately it costs a bloody fortune every year and if you can't cover the cost or when it expires some monied bozo corporation will capitalise - I know one huge startup which has stood on the shoulders of one fantastic expired patent.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Should be cheaper to protect your idea...

      How about 1% of last rear's revenue (or your owner's revenue if you're a paper company/subsidiary/employee)?

      Would make a lot more money for the patent office if that's their game, and might even reduce the number of frivilous patents being registered to boot.

      I'm sure the first thing people would do though would be to work out ways to avoid that, so I suspect restricting the sale/transfer of patents for five years and voiding any patents that haven't been implemented (and released) within five years or so of registration would probably have to be legislated too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Should be cheaper to protect your idea...

        I think that limits companies to 100 patents a year, which would be a pain for big companies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should be cheaper to protect your idea...

      You should only patent an idea if you forsee the idea being self-funding for said patent - otherwise by definition it is not worth protecting.

  9. EveryTime

    Criminalizing patent infringement?

    I don't see how criminalizing patent infringement would have been anything other than a disaster for individuals and small companies.

    Large companies don't go to jail. They can change any legal battle into one of endurance, not strength.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Criminalizing patent infringement?

      This. Patent law is pretty clear and can provide plentyful payout and compensation in case of infringement. The problem is nowadays, an individual or small company simply can't afford to take on a large multinational corporation. They'll have spend more money on their lawyers just reading up on the case than you can afford to spend on the entire process.

      1. CertMan
        Thumb Down

        Re: Criminalizing patent infringement?

        I've seen this first hand in the mid 90's. The 5 person company I worked for offered to sell our prize possession to a US based multinational. They had a copy of the software for 2 weeks to evaluate, but said that they did not want to pursue the purchase. 6 months later they announced their substandard knock off. When my boss rang them up, they said "We have more money, and more lawyers than you could ever afford!"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Criminalizing patent infringement?

          That sounds so like :

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ric_Richardson#Microsoft_court_case

          (though in this case, the multinational eventually ended up settling)

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Sad to hear.

    RIP.

  11. Malcolm Weir

    Optional

    The (maybe) sad fact is that patents are increasingly not fit for purpose. If there's one thing we've learned from spats like the Apple/Samsung one, it's that patents are impossible to truly impartially and fairly assess, both at the point of patent award and at trial when someone claims infringement.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Optional

      Well I suppose it depends on whether they're trying to patent ridiculous crud like rounded corners.

      There is a deficit of any sort of sense right now, with regards to patents, let alone common sense.

      RIP Trevor. You really did something for a lot of people with that radio.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Optional

        "Well I suppose it depends on whether they're trying to patent ridiculous crud like rounded corners."

        Sigh.....

        How many fucking times.

        I'm too fed up to tell you why you are so wrong bringing this up (YET AGAIN!)

        So here is a Wiki article

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_patent

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Optional

          ..."Well I suppose it depends on whether they're trying to patent ridiculous crud like rounded corners."

          Sigh.....

          How many fucking times...

          Well check my posts, you rude prick because it's the first time I've mentioned it, personally, so you've told me precisely zero times. Mind you I'd give you zero credence given your language.

          ..."I'm too fed up to tell you why you are so wrong bringing this up (YET AGAIN!)..."

          But don't let that stop you anyway. You must be American with that grasp of irony. Or thick, as well as rude.

          This isn't something such as a coke bottle that is immediately recognisable as a uniquely identifiable object specific to a brand - take a look at things like Compaq iPaqs as one example of prior art that existed way before iPhones.

          Nor is it about who won or not - it's about common sense you ignoramus

          1. SEPAM

            Re: Optional

            Not him but the thing about design patents have been brought up again and again. It is an Americanism. It has noting to do with inventions. What they call "design patents" is what most Europeans call "design", and what Americans call "utility patent" we call just plain "patent". These protect totally different aspects. When debates start about obviousness and US design patents the debate goes straight south, every time.

            And if you really believe a design patent is not like a Coke bottle you could perhaps cite some sources?

        2. nijam Silver badge

          Re: Optional

          > I'm too fed up to tell you why you are so wrong bringing this up (YET AGAIN!)

          >

          > So here is a Wiki article

          >

          > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_patent

          Can't help noticing that the link very clearly says "patent". So your point is?

          1. SEPAM

            Re: Optional

            >Can't help noticing that the link very clearly says "patent". So your point is?

            Sure. It is like illegal clearly says legal. Did you read the link?

      2. Casca
        Mushroom

        Re: Optional

        The problem is the US patent office. Lazy arsholes that has destroyed the patent idé.

  12. wolfetone Silver badge

    I remember when one2one were doing adverts and he appeared in one, saying he'd love to have a "one2one" with Frank Whittle. I was a child at the time when his radio came out and thought it was brilliant. No more nagging mom and dad for batteries!

    Never got my hand on one of his radios though, and what happened to him really was cruel. The BBC, as has been said, spun his life as a lovely thing but totally glossed over how he lost out to companies who had bigger/better lawyers than he did.

    RIP.

  13. Hans 1
    Paris Hilton

    Shoes that recharge your mobile as you walk .... get a license from Nintendo for PokemonGo shoes ... there, pile of cash ...

  14. LucreLout
    Angel

    RIP Mr Bayliss

    I remember studying the man and his most famous invention, which had just arrived while I was at A-Level college.

    I think its fair to say the number of lives he saved in Africa would be incalculable: It's not just his own invention helping to reduce the spread of AIDS, but the fact that he was the first person many of us had heard of looking to solve 3rd world problems in his shed. In that sense, he pioneered and inspired a generation of tinkerers that followed (I use the term with the utmost respect for the man and those that followed).

    Whatever level of fame he achieved was a byproduct of his desire to solve a problem, not an end in itself; which sadly is the highest ambition of many of todays young.

    RIP Mr Bayliss - I'm sure they're gonna love the wind up harp.

  15. DuncanLarge Silver badge

    Patents dont give you a monopoly on an idea, just a monopoly on your version of it.

    A true patent on something does not protect your idea.

    Patents protect your implementation of that idea and must be specific and well defined. You also can not patent anything that is obvious or that already exists. Nobody for example can patent the idea of switching on an electric light by using a lever to connect two conductors together completing a circuit. But you can patent a light switch that performs this action in a diferent non-obvious way.

    His patent protected his method for implementing a wind up radio. Competing radios did not "circumvent" or "get around" his patent. They simply chose to not infringe his patent by implementing a wind up radio in their own way. In order for him to have combatted this he would have had to think of submitting a new patent that covered a wind up radio (again with a specific design) that included a battery recharged by that winding action. I doubt such a patent would have been granted as it is blatently obvious and may have already been created.

    This is how patents are suposed to work, however, greed and lazyness has helped create a sea of more generic patents that can be applied to almost any implementation of an idea. These illegal patents slip through the system simply because there are so many of them and so few intelligent eyes to proof read them before the patent is granted. They only get thrown into the bin where they belong is if the question of ther validity is taken through the courts. usually this quickly shows the patent is false however due to the sheer expense in simply getting to the court many dont bother and simply pay a license fee which ends up cheaper.

    Such patents are like a protection racket. "Pay me a small reasonable fee to save all the trouble strife and expense of trying to win in court".

    Its a shame that he did not make more money from this invention. I argue that the issue was not the patent of the invention itself. His invention was not groundbreaking and although he thought of it, to myself as a kid into hobbiest electronics at the time, it seemed quite obvious. What he did do, and did not take advantage of was he discovered the market for such radios.

  16. Norman Nescio

    Batteryless radio

    I don't know what the innovative step or steps were that Trevor Baylis did*. The problem he aimed to solve was providing sufficient electric power to run a radio without the use of batteries, as batteries were difficult and expensive to obtain in remote areas and polluted the environment when discarded. I think his innovative step was to take a technique used from clock- and watch- making (and possibly gramophones) and apply it in a new area. Spring powered record players (akak 'wind-up gramophones') certainly existed as a form of prior art, and presumably produced up to 5 minutes of audio after having been cranked, as that was the approximate duration of one side of a 78 record.

    In order to make most efficient use of the power cranked into the radio, it was desirable for the clockwork mechanism to drive the generator at a ('substantially') constant rate. Cheap clockwork mechanisms do not do this: they start fast and slow down. Clocks and watches and gramophone players use various techniques to extract power from a wound-up mainspring at near-enough constant torque, and what Bayliss did is adapt that mechanism and connect it to a generator that provided power to the radio. In this way he avoided using rechargeable batteries. His method made more efficient use of the hand-power supplied as it didn't incur the round-trip losses suffered when charging up a battery and then discharging it,.

    I believe (I could be wrong, as I'm not practised at patent search) the UK patent application is here: UK Patent Application GB 2 262 324 A

    A newer similar patent application is GB 2 304 208 A

    Both are worth a read.

    So, as far I can make out*, what he did was take a well-known technique from one area, and apply it in a novel area. The problem he hit was that it was considerably cheaper to simply charge up a small battery (with its short life) with a cheaper to manufacture generator mechanism.

    There's quite an interesting old Wired article from 2001 about Trevor Baylis which is also worth a read: The Greatest Shoe on Earth.

    Note: human powered radio transmitters had been invented as early as 1928. In this case, pedal powered - Alfred Herman Traeger and his transceivers and Pedal-powered radio brings back memories for creator's daughter

    *A patent lawyer might be able to give a better description of what the innovation was, and tell me I'm wrong.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Batteryless radio

      As far as I know, his use of a spring winding continuously from one drum to another was the innovation, and a very good one too.

    2. Jonathon Green

      Re: Batteryless radio

      If I recall correctly there was a clever wrinkle in Bayliss’s design (or it may have been a second generation of the original) which basically added an electronic/electrical element to a traditional clockwork escapement which basically provided PWM regulation of the output. This made the whole thing vastly more efficient and provided a much longer run-time from the same spring compared previous “open loop” regulation mechanisms which ran the generator at constant speed and threw away any excess power generated through an old-school analog regulator...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Batteryless radio

      GB 2 262 324 A Did not make it to grant - see here:

      https://www.ipo.gov.uk/p-ipsum/Case/PublicationNumber/GB2262324

      For your information, if the publication number has an 'A' next to it then this is a publication of the application as filed - if it has a 'B' next to it then it is a publication of the application as granted - and quite a lot can happen in between those two.

      I often see in these threads links to the 'A' spec, which often reads like a wish list / land-grab, whereas the finally granted 'B' spec is frequently far more limited and nuanced - but by then the outrage has already been vented and preconceived ideas reinforced...

      Incidentally the later application GB 2304208 did grant, with the following claim:

      1. A generator device for providing a controlled electric output current, comprising

      a source of mechanical energy,

      a gear train connected to the source,

      a generator connected to the output of the gear train,

      and a control circuit connected to the output of the generator to control the output level thereof,

      the control circuit comprising an arrangement for electronically braking the generator when the output

      voltage of the generator rises above a predetermined value.

      This seems fairly broad but requires use of electronic braking.

      One final point about being 'ripped off' - If he didn't protect his idea in South Africa, or in the countries where it was to be used, of in China where the copies might get made, then he had no rights in those countries to be ripped off from.

      Whilst I think Trevor was an inspiration to many and should therefore be celebrated, he had a desperately unrealistic expectation of the commercial viability of his product given the intended use, and to be honest a rather over-inflated opinion of the genius of the idea itself, which later translated into a distain for the failure of the patent system to protect it and some how magically commercialise it for him.

      /Yes I'm a patent attorney

      //We do actually care about our clients and their inventions

      ///We were engineers and scientists first, and became lawyers second

  17. WibbleMe

    It seems almost a London attitude that money is everything, he's done a lot of good in this world, far too few people can hole themselves that hight.

  18. Binra

    The operating system is the way the world is thinking now. If it does not fit in, it does not really run.

    The way the world is thinking is not concerned with helping so much as masking for validating and funding in the narratives that are set. So dealing with Co2 may not address any of the toxic pollutions that operate at a cellular level to degrade life on Earth, but it is more likely to find support in the narrative driven system of control that is itself the possession and defence of captured revenue streams at expense of true sense.

    To align in true sense may not be to gain the world or to gain in terms of the consensual group or society, but it may be to live the live that you are the movement to be instead of 'selling out' to a sense of security.

    There are many more tragic denials in our history than this one. He did get recognition and did get to sell working models of his idea. Perhaps he wanted more control over and licensing fees for what he felt was his. Others have spoken into this.

    Patents are for by far the most part serving corporate gods that demand human serf-ship.

  19. adam payne

    Mr Baylis might not have made a lot of money but I can only hope he is an inspiration for many people.

    RIP

  20. ukgnome
    Pint

    By all accounts a top gent and a genuine boffin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Having hosted him as a speaker at my company (I work for, not 'mine'!), he was great; full of ideas, enthusiasm and genuinely inventive but boy oh boy, what a patronising misogynist. I'm a bloke but my manager got the whole nine yards. "Run along dear and plug the projector in, will you?". And she had quite a few patents of her own.

  21. Lotaresco

    A man let down by others

    I bought a couple of Baygen radios to give to people who needed them. It was a double benefit because Baygen had a policy of giving one radio away in Africa for each radio bought in the UK. Trevor wasn't just an inventor, he was a true philanthropist. I don't think he ever expected to get rich off the sales of the radios but I think he was (rightly) upset about the way his idea was both pillaged and diminished by companies looking to make a big profit.

    His genuine innovation was the control circuitry that governed the clockwork generator meaning that the spring unwound at a rate determined by how loud the radio was. The rest was good design. The Baygen radios were a pleasure to listen to with a decent sized loudspeaker. They were capable of decent sound levels and could be used to entertain a family or a number of people in a public space in a village.

    There's another side to a successful product and that is selling the product on its features and benefits. The Baygen was well designed, reliable and was a good product even without the clockwork generator (it was possible to run the radio from an external PSU). It should have succeeded as a product in its own right, at which point the patent issues become irrelevant and the design is protected by copyright. I think something else went seriously wrong at Baygen but have no idea what it was. I do remember getting quite frustrated with the sales droids at Baygen who didn't seem to want to sell the radios in the UK, and who were oblivious to the point that this was raising revenue.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: A man let down by others

      I'd use a coil in series with electronics to develop a magnetic field, that operated plunger to change setting of clock type balance wheel escapement. The spring loaded centre off/on switch would lock the escapement via balance wheel or give the coil driven plunger a kick to start wheel.

      I've made custom series current coils to do this. A prototype would use the coil in a quartz clock that takes as low as 0.9V pulse to kick the cogs once a second. That coil has a metal plunger that interacts with a circular permanent magnet on a cog.

      Why did competitors use a rechargeable cell? Because it's much cheaper than a spring drive, doesn't rust and NiCd or NiMH can last five years (cycles only). LiPoly not so long life, esp at extreme temperatures (cycles and time since manufacture).

      I've worked with creating patents (I have one) and finding legal, moral solutions to circumvent. It's difficult & expensive and since 19th C the patent is useless unless owned by a big company. A UK Chemist in New York (1890s) copied Swedish (?) Wilhelm Hellesen's battery and sold the US patent to The American Novelty Co. that was later National Carbon/Union Carbide/US Eveready and is now Energiser.

      US government eventually invalidated Edison's Movie patents (which were invalid when fiiled!).

      It's glamorous to be an inventor, but really since 19th C it's a mechanism for big rich companies. The USPTO works on the principle that if the Patent is "really" invalid, it's up to a rich competitor to prove it in US Courts. They make little money from rejecting them and don't make much effort to spot if prior art, obvious to someone schooled in the art or too broad. Many patent applications that seem novel or have no prior art do fail or should fail on the "obvious" aspect.

      Design Patents (=UK Registered Design), Trademarks and Copyright are all different things. You need money. "Winter is Coming".

      More likely to get rich being a Patent Lawyer than "inventing", in sense of patenting. Indeed I've never made a cent from my brilliant patent.

  22. Jason Bloomberg

    It's a wind-up

    I always thought the radio was clever but not overly original. Why he invented it often seemed to get lost in the applause for his technical achievement.

    I was more impressed by the 'universal glasses' he developed. I believe they initially had liquid filled or squishy lenses so their optical characteristics could be altered by adjusting pressure around the edge.Those have evolved into something which have a two-piece plastic lens which can rotate to adjust strength.

    I wouldn't necessarily call him a great inventor; more a great developer. But he's another well meaning person with his heart and mind in the right place who will be missed.

  23. TRT Silver badge

    Baylis and Haines.

    Apart from it sounding like some sort of fancy soap, heaven reeks of pipe smoke this evening. RIP an inspiration to us all; the boffin's boffin.

  24. RandomUsername

    I know one person the wind up radio benefited enormously

    A few years ago I found myself on a mental health ward but that's another long story.

    One of the other patients was obviously psychotic and walked around clutching a small transistor radio to his ear and talking back to what ever he heard. One Sunday evening the batteries in the radio went flat and there were not enough staff on duty to send someone to the shop to buy some replacements. The poor bloke went completely ballistic and lets just say his evening didn't end well.

    When I was discharged I sent him a Baylis wind up radio so he never had to worry about the batteries going flat again. I had a letter from the consultant about a month later to say I had made a big difference to this one guy with my simple idea.

    I wrote to Trevor Baylis to tell him this story and he wrote a fantastic letter back saying that he was so glad he could indirectly help just one person.

    1. Stuart21551

      Re: I know one person the wind up radio benefited enormously

      Must remember to get one before I 'check in'.

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