Yes, everyone thought I was a genius whereas up to then, I was just another silly little man.
After the radio, I made an electric shoe and walked across the Namibian desert trying to raise money for anti-personnel mine detection. That didn’t go anywhere, because after 9/11 anyone who with a devise strapped to his or her shoe would be in big trouble. But I’ve just seen one of the large shoe companies has started to make an electric shoe – they stole my idea.
All British inventions go overseas; this nation is appalling when it comes to looking after its inventions. They have to make their own arrangements and if they have their inventions stolen, they can’t even have their day in court.
If UK Plc is not going to lose entitlement to all its inventions, it’s got to stand by the little guy who has to do so much to fund his invention. It’s not just building the prototype, it’s showing yourself off and you’ve got to raise the money from somewhere, because you don’t know who to trust.
I thought I could trust them. You do so much on the basis of a handshake – ‘Don’t worry Trev, we’ll look after you’.
All I got out of those sharks was about £400,000. They turned me over like a proverbial turkey. We settled a deal for about £1.3 million, but I thought they were a decent crowd so I invested £500,000 in the company and spread the balance over five years, so that I had an income.
After two years, they stopped paying me.
I would’ve had a team of really good corporate lawyers on my side, so that when something came through the post I could run it past them.
What I try to do now is to make sure that any other inventor with a patent that is infringed has their day in court.
We’ve got to get invention as part of the national curriculum and teach kids about intellectual property as they are sharing their ideas with their friends – they don’t know they are disclosing their ideas.
This can all be taught. My attitude is that there’s an invention in all of us. If you can solve a problem, you are on the way to being an inventor. Every now and then, there’s something that’s rather unique, so you’ve got to recognise when that comes along and do something about it.
I do believe so. There are people that do it, but it’s expensive and if you’re not careful the large corporations will steal the idea from you. One of the things I would insist on if I was in government is that if a corporation refuses to sign a non-disclosure agreement, you should refuse to show them your invention.
We’ve got to make it easier for inventors to get to make it to the market. As along as we make sure that when the money rolls in the inventor isn’t rolled out, then he or she can make a living from the invention.
Firstly, don’t tell everyone about it. Secondly, get literature from the Patent Office and read all about how to protect your idea.
If you wish, you can approach us and we’d be delighted to look at your invention. It’s important that these inventors don’t get shafted.
As they say, art is pleasure, invention is treasure, and this nation has got to recognise that. If they can spend a fortune on dead sheep and formaldehyde, then it can spend a bit more of that money on inventors.