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PATENTS AND TRADEMARKS

Edison's Inventionland

A tour through Thomas Edison's famed workshop, plus Apple's bid to convert speech to text, and the rest of today's news.
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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today.

A walk through Edison's playhouse. Ever wonder where the great inventor went to work every morning? Hint: it's probably a lot cooler than your office. The Atlantic has compiled a slideshow of photos taken by the Library of Congress of Edison's New Jersey workshop, which, frankly, looks more like a factory than a workshop. During his lifetime, Edison held over 1,000 patents, many of which were obtained with machinations built within these walls. "Unlike some other Edison locations, the first floor of the building retained much of its historical flavor through the 20th century," The Atlantic notes. "The third floor, by contrast, came to be used largely for storage, serving as a fascinatingly messy archive of audiovisual experimentation."

Apple eyes speech-to-text technology. PatentlyApple reports this morning that Apple has filed a patent application for technology that could convert speech to text, and text to speech. The converter would help users stuck in very loud or very quiet situations. For example, say you were talking to someone on the phone in a noisy restaurant. If the noise level got to the point where it made the conversation impossible, the phone would automatically convert the speech into text so you could read the conversation. The technology would also work in the opposite direction: In a quiet situation, the user could type the text of what they want to say instead of speaking.

The decade of the female entrepreneur? Could the disparity between numbers of male and female entrepreneurs be stunting greater economic growth? In a column for The Huffington Post, vice president of the Kauffman Foundation Lesa Mitchell writes how women entrepreneurs are our most crucial source of untapped talent and the key to a greater economic recovery. According to Mitchell, womens' start-ups underperform on several key measures of growth, and the overall rate of entrepreneurial activity among women is less than two-thirds the rate for men. But there's hope yet for women entrepreneurs: Nearly half of the current undergraduates at MIT are women, and more women now hold professorships, publish papers, win research grants, and make discoveries.

When should your hobby be your business? If you love doing what you do in your free time, shouldn't you do it full time? Not necessarily, a guest column by Susan Solovic in the Wall Street Journal reasons. Before you make the leap, you need to do some serious analysis of your "joy factor" in doing your pastime (i.e. would doing it 60 hours a week kill the joy?), the market, and your likelihood of profitability.In short, even the most favored hobby requires a business plan before becoming your full-time life.

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Last updated: May 13, 2011




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