DEARBORN - Tomorrow’s greatest inventions may just come from the minds of today’s Ford employees.
Ford is asking all U.S. employees and agency personnel to put their thinking caps on and help accelerate innovation within the company by submitting inventions to Ford Global Technologies.
“Someone once said that the best way to predict the future is to invent it, and we can really make a difference in the future of Ford through inventive contributions,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO, Ford Global Technologies, LLC. “That’s what we’re seeking to inspire.”
Ford has been encouraging employees to submit inventions since 1988 by offering financial awards through the Patent Incentive Award Program (PIAP), which has helped the company build a portfolio of over 15,000 pending and active patents worldwide.
Ford is now offering employees even more incentives to invent by increasing the amounts of the PIAP awards and instituting two new awards. The Quality Invention Disclosure Award will be presented to those who submit an invention that receives a high or medium ranking by the appropriate patent review committee. Under this new award, eligible Ford inventors will receive up to $250 and a free three-month membership to TechShop Detroit, a workshop opening soon in Allen Park, Mich., that is designed to help inventors bring their ideas to life.
The second new award, the Technology License Income Award, will recognize Ford inventors named in an original patent issued to Ford if the patented invention is licensed to a third party by Ford for royalty income. The award is 30 percent of the royalty income received up to a maximum award of $50,000 to be divided between inventors.
The amounts of the existing awards have also been increased across the board. For example, each U.S. based inventor on a U.S. patent will now be able to receive a total of $5,000 per original patent upon use by Ford.
“Once people start thinking like inventors, it’s hard to turn that off,” said Coughlin. “You start seeing problems in a different light. You see them as opportunities to create solutions.”
Creating a solution to a problem – a solution that is not obvious – is one of the criteria of a patentable invention, says Coughlin.
“It’s got to be a real solution to a problem. It has to be new, and it has to be ‘nonobvious,’” he explained. “Any invention that customers will appreciate and value would be number one on my list. Second would be an invention that improves our processes and makes us more productive and competitive.”
Coughlin says inventions can vary from the complex – like how to control torque in an engine – to the seemingly simple like designing the perfect location to store a purse.
“You don’t have to work out every detail, but if you can sketch out your invention, that’s enough to get us started,” he said.
People who wish to submit an invention or learn more about the PIAP may do so by visiting https://web.anaqua.ford.com.
“The idea is to encourage employees to be creative, to invent and to submit those inventions to Ford Global Technologies so that we can protect them,” said Coughlin. “Anyone can invent. We’ve proven it over and over again. And we’d like to bring that out in our employees and provide reward and recognition in the process.”