IBMer Stories

Who Can Be An Inventor?

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Laura StoreyThe next time you enjoy a pretzel smothered in mustard, think of Laura Storey and thank her family. “My Great-Grandfather invented the machine that takes the husks out of mustard seeds, giving us smooth mustard.” Other family members have patents for technical drawing tools, an early prototype photocopier and the world’s most popular hip replacement technology. “I have patenting and inventing in my blood,” she says.

Unlike Corville Allen or the other Patent Leaders, Laura doesn’t have a fistful of patents. But what’s interesting here is Laura’s background—not her family’s long history with patents, but her background. You see: Laura Storey is “a completely non-technical IBMer.”

Laura started at IBM 17 years ago, coming from a law firm, where she’d worked as an insurance litigation lawyer. As an IBMer, she first managed industry clients’ websites; she now works in marketing. But Laura wants you to know that she has done the investigative work and come to the conclusion: Anyone can invent.

“I started my patenting journey quite a few years ago, following conversations with my husband (an IBM Master Inventor himself). Conversations that usually started with the phrase, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if…'” Because, Laura explains, patents are not awarded to technical people, but to ideas people.

In early 2016, after receiving an email introducing her to the Patent Group Incubation Project (PGIP), Laura decided to challenge herself and see if she could achieve a patent. She packed up her “wouldn’t it be great if” ideas and brought them to one the project’s workshops.

The short version of Laura’s team’s patenting story is: They brainstormed, they filed, they were awarded a patent. But the important part is that Laura will keep stretching her non-technical self. “Now I’ve got my first patent and a total of six patent points under my belt, I am really thirsty for my first plateau!”

And she challenges you to test your own limits.  “It’s fun, it’s creative and it’s absolutely risk-free.”

Laura Storey works in Marketing as a Workforce Enablement Leader. She is based in IBM UK.

The IBM Patent Leadership series marks IBM’s 25th consecutive year leading in patent grants. The series consists of innovation stories from remarkable IBMers who help make this company what it is and has been for over a century: a collection of inquisitive, restless, determined humans who drive the culture of innovation within and beyond our walls.

Find out more about the foundation of IBM’s Patent Leadership.


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