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  • Writer's pictureRobert Cantrell

Getting it Wrong to Get it Right

August 29, 2022

By Robert Cantrell - Registered Patent Agent

Most people who know me in the intellectual property industry know about my book Outpacing the Competition: Patent-Based Business Strategy, published by Wiley in 2009. But there is another. I wrote it in 2011 with Australian patent strategist Duncan Bucknell and titled it The Defense of the Mieza HChip.This book would proceed my work at Walmart where I am an inventor on 45 granted US patents, many involving related ideas from this second book. (The Defense of the Mieza HChip is also selling for $4.56 on instead of the $97.00 Wiley charges for Outpacing....)

The Defense of the Mieza HChip is an adaptation of a century-old British military strategy book titled The Defense of Duffer’s Drift, the latter a book I studied as a junior officer in the U.S. Army. Both stories follow a plotline made familiar by Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. The protagonists are given a task to build and execute a defense. They get their defense wrong five times until—by using lessons learned from previous mistakes—they finally get it right.

The fictional product the protagonist must defend in The Defense of the Mieza HChip is a Horse-Chip containing a “cognitive algorithm” that affords a car a degree of autonomy toward its own self-preservation. So, just as a horse would reject a rider’s command to leap off a cliff, the car would reject a driver’s command such as to pull into traffic in front of an oncoming tractor-trailer.

Again, I wrote this book in 2011. Eleven years on, many of the technical ideas presented in The Defense of the Mieza HChip now exist on the road. You can add that context when reading this story in 2022. The first two paragraphs read as follows:

"I felt lonely, and a little sad, as I looked out the window of my new office at Mieza Technologies near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and watched through the haze of the afternoon sun in the direction of the successful technology giant I had chosen to leave. It was 3 o’clock, and there I was sitting in my office, charged with running the IP department in a company with only fifty employees.

The company was built on automating important technological elements of the user experience in automobiles. However, its latest invention, relating to what we called ‘Protocol X’ provided the most promising area for potential growth. It was what we called an automotive horse chip (HChip™), an artificial intelligence device that allows a car to refuse to follow harmful commands, like pulling in front of an oncoming truck, in much the same way that a real horse would refuse to be taken over a cliff by its rider."

The strength of the original The Defense of Duffer’s Drift lies in exploring how to get things wrong in the safety of the classroom to avoid making comparable mistakes in real life. I sought the same spirit of study in my adaptation. Chapters include:

  1. Priorities, confidentiality, and file first

  2. Broad claims, intelligence, and motives

  3. Not just patents but markets

  4. The race to market and information

  5. Tackle the entire system

  6. Getting it right

A sister book for the pharmaceutical industry is titled The Defense of the Mieza Compound. Succeeding at patent strategy involves more than knowing technology and patent law.


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