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Toronto business partners Ian McDonald and Kerry Knoll and a lawyer friend, John Cocomile, had a novel idea. Patent suits are so expensive to litigate that if investors put up money to help independent inventors defend their rights, the inventors would probably be willing to share any award. The three were right on the money. The shareholders in their company, Patent Enforcement & Royalties, which trades on the Canadian Venture Exchange, are entitled to 50% of a $3 million January verdict against Land O'Lakes for infringing a New Yorker's patent of a low-fat coffee creamer. Three weeks ago, Conair, the hair-appliance maker, was ordered to pay a German inventor $28.5 million in back royalties for a device that prevents electric shock when driers get wet. "When the little guy needs help, that's where we come in," says McDonald, above.
HELLO, MY NAME IS...
Trying to network at poorly lighted business functions--in nightclubs, at evening cookouts--can be a real drag if you can't tell who's who. Pc/nametag, a Madison, Wis., company that makes ID products for business meetings, thinks its GloTags are the solution. The reusable plastic tags are the size of a business card and are powered by lithium batteries. The tags come with special markers filled with erasable glow-in-the-dark ink. Just write on the faceplate, switch on the tag and project your name in lights. Pc/nametag can also customize the tags to feature corporate logos or slogans. Although GloTags are decidedly less geeky than the old "Hello" stickers, their wild fluorescent colors might be too reminiscent of the nightclub scene for more serious business gatherings. And because each tag costs almost $5 (more for custom orders), you will want to make sure attendees leave them behind.