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It is a little known fact that "inventors" are the cornerstone of America's spirit of entrepreneurship, for they provide the new product ideas that entrepreneurs develop, market and commercialize. In essence, inventors are the underpinning of our economy, responsible for approximately 50% of all innovation which in turn provides millions of jobs for Americans.

Our country's great spirit of invention stems from our founding fathers foresight in developing a unique "First-to-Invent" patent system that assures that all people, rich or poor, have an equal opportunity to financially benefit from their creations.

The following revolutionary breakthroughs are just a handful of the many significant innovations of the 20th century that were invented by U.S. independent inventors with the incentive of the patent system: Air conditioning; Airplane; Audio tape recorder; FM radio; Heart valve; Helicopter; High resolution CAT scanner; Hydraulic brakes; Personal computer; Photo typesetting; Polaroid camera; Portable computer; Quick frozen food; Soft contact lenses; White-out; Xerography; X-ray telescope; Zipper.

With the goal of increasing the odds that creative people can bring their new products to market quicker and improving the general image of inventors, Stephen Paul Gnass founded the first INVENTION CONVENTION® in 1987.


The INVENTION CONVENTION® became the most pretigious new product showcase in North America, and the most visible aspect of Gnass' work. Traditionally held over Labor Day Weekend at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California, the trade show attracted an average of 200-300 exhibitions and 10,000 attendees each year, including major catalog companies, investors, distributors, manufacturers, venture capitalists, and public guests, who along with hundreds of national and international media outlets, descended on the INVENTION CONVENTION® for a preview of the next "new thing."

Successes from the convention ranged from the simple to the complex -- the Vector automobile raised $6 million in capital; the EMX Scooter was discovered by the 144-year old Hammacher Schlemmer catalog company; and the Floatron icture frame was licensed by Dakin, known for its Garfield stuffed animals.


The four-day event featured a slate of educational seminars with up to 50 experts presenting seminars on many facets of the invention process. Throughout its history, Gnass' INVENTION CONVENTION® brought together keynote speakers that included a roster of world-renowned modern inventors:

  • Paul MacCready, father of human-powered flight;
  • Jerome Lemelson, prolific inventor with over 500 patents ranking third only to Thomas Edison and Edwin Land [inventor of the Polaroid];
  • Stanley Mason, America's master inventor to Fortune 500 companies, known as the father of the form-fitting disposable diaper, microwave cookware, the granola bar, the squeezable ketchup bottle, the underwire bra, and stringless band-aid wrapper;
  • Peter Theis, President of Theis Research, Inc., a pioneer in voice technology systems;
  • Jack Ryan, alledgedly the creator of the Barbie Doll among 95% of Mattel's products over a 20-year span.

Gnass commented, "Meeting these inventors is like meeting Thomas Alva Edison or Alexander Graham Bell. They've created technologies that have changed our lives."


Recognized as the "Academy Awards" of inventing, each year during the INVENTION CONVENTION®, Gnass awarded the coveted bronze BULBIETM Lifetime Achievement Award to outstanding individuals whose lifetime achievements in the arts, sciences, business, or invention fields significantly contributed to society or the earth at large. The bronze BULBIETM award is shaped like a lightbulb to evoke the spirit of Thomas Alva Edison.


In addition, approximately 25 awards were presented to the inventors of new products at the Annual New Product and Invention Awards program based on inventiveness, design, marketability, usefulness, environmental and social redeeming qualities.


The INVENTION CONNECTION® showguide was a natural supplement to the trade show. Distributed throughout the convention and to the INVENTION CONVENTION's proprietary database of inventors, media and VIPs during the year, the 30-page, tabloid style newsmagazine was designed to act as the "trade show in print", making it a cost-effective adjunct for making industry contacts.


Gnass also formed INVENTORS' VOICETM to help defeat several bills in Congress that would have "harmonized" the U.S. patent laws with the rest of the world's patent laws, to the detriment of U.S. inventors. "The latter basis for patent protection favors corporations, andis used throughout the rest of the world," Gnass said. "Here in the U.S., however, we've been blessed in yet another way with the foresight of the founding fathers, who created a system that has protected the individual inventor for over 200 years." The INVENTORS' VOICETM was created to inform the invention community and public of any proposed legislation related to intellectual property.

The INVENTORS' VOICETM ROUND TABLE DINNER was held each year during the weekend of the INVENTION CONVENTION® trade show, bringing together industry leaders who were the movers and shakers.


With the development of the internet as a worldwide communications vehicle, the physical trade show evolved into the Invention Connection® online trade show [what we often call the cyber-show]. This cut participation costs for exhibitors considerably by eliminating travel, exhibiting, and booth staffing costs while preserving the spirit and function of the showcase. It also provided a year-long vehicle, versus just 3-4 days, to showcase new products to VIPs.

Like the trade show, it's a venue to showcase new products to potential licensees, manufacturers, investors, etc. [what we call VIPs]. It also comes with two hours of one-on-one private consultations for guidance and direction.

The Invention Connection® main home page is at:

But the actual work of the INVENTION CONVENTION.COM® is much broader: whether clients are in the idea start-up stage, have done some preliminary work or already invested considerable resources and time, today Gnass offers a variety of one-on-one consulting programs no matter what level of the invention process a product developer may be at.

For companies in the "VIP" category who offer various services to inventors, special sposorship programs act as a subtle but powerful marketing medium to provide high visiblity - thus positioning the company as experts who are sponsors and supporters of innovation and creativity.

Gnass sees himself as not only the "inventor", but a teacher of fast-track and affordable systems for commercializing new products and has been recognized by several organizations for his outstanding contributions in the field of technology transfer.

He hopes that his ultimate role in fostering the invention process will be to help nurture the development of socially and environmentally responsible products which our society and the planet need to survive. "Technology got us into the mess we're in. The inventors who can find ways to produce products from recycled waste products are truly going to be regarded as the George Washington Carvers of our day. I really believe that what we're doing is making a difference and will encourage more people to seek positive solutions to our global problems, instead of adding to them.

Copyright Notice: The Invention Convention® archives are copyrighted by Stephen Gnass/Invention Convention®. Copies for personal use are approved, but the archives must be kept in their entirety including the Invention Convention® name and logo. The articles may not be reprinted, nor excerpts used, nor can they be edited or altered in any way, shape or form, without the written permission from Stephen Gnass/
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