Is anything truly original?

philmckinney | July 21, 2014


Listen to the Podcast Now:

Inspire Killer Ideas

In a recent discussion among patent attorneys and engineers, the question was asked about the requirement of originality before something can be issued a patent. Younger engineers tend to have the belief that only truly original ideas can be patented. That is not the case. In fact, when you file a patent application, you have to present the “prior art” — work that came before your patent on which your idea is based. Is anything truly original

If we are honest with ourselves, we can trace back any idea we come up with  to something that inspired us. Look around and there are numerous examples — such as music sampling. Is a song that uses samples an original piece of music? 

When I started podcasting +9 years ago, I was early in the space but not the first. I was inspired by others such as Adam Curry (who mentioned my podcast on his show and put it on the map). My inspiration for producing the podcast didn’t stop there. I can trace my inspiration back to 1981 and Earl Nightingale who produced a monthly cassette tape for his listeners of which I was rapid follower. We are all inspired by something or someone. 

For the rest of the story … listen to the podcast


Resource mentioned in the podcast:

Killer Innovations Podcast The award-winning podcast, Killer Innovations, shows the listener how to harness the power of innovation to radically improve their personal, career and business success. The show is available on: iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, Spreaker, via RSS and many others.


  • Adam Collier

    I agree that few, if any innovations are completely original, we should give credit where credit is due. When I thought I had an ortignal idea its often when I forgot about conversations or content that I’ve consumed in the past and my subconsious is just now putting it back out there with my perspective or cross pollination with other ideas. Generosity and collaboration is better than selfishness and insecurity.

  • Phil Mckinney

    Thanks Adam.

    With my move last year from California to Colorado, I came across my collection of old notebooks full of ideas. When I looked through them, I can see the now obvious connections between the work of others.

    Admitting that your idea was inspired is not a bad thing. With credit comes the motivation to share.

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