Innovation doesn’t always have a best-before date.
A list of the of the province’s top patent filers for 2010-11 compiled by Industry Canada contains some of the big names you’d expect including Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s universities, LED Roadway Lighting, Welaptega Marine and Advanced Glazing Technologies. But nestled in there is a 78-year-old Waverley inventor who believes he’s developed a better trailer hitch.
“I’ve been into the patenting stuff for quite some time,” says Kenneth MacDougall.
He’s been working on different trailer designs for about a decade since retiring from his job as a building contractor.
So far, the biggest problem has been trying to find companies to manufacture and market his gadgets.
“I didn’t know when I started that only three per cent of patents are bought up by companies,” MacDougall says. “A lot of them are never developed or brought to the market.”
He’s built prototypes of a gas can spout that doesn’t leave the user with filthy hands and a trailer that can stack tee markers at golf tournaments.
But one invention he’s pinning his hopes on these days is an add-on that would make trailers more stable and difficult to steal when they’re not moving.
“U-Haul is interested in marketing me if I can get somebody to manufacture it,” he says. “They want it to convert millions of trailers that are already out there.”
To that end, MacDougall has been meeting with potential partners that could build his creation, which allows the trailer hitch to fold down vertically and lock in place.
He’s a tad reluctant to discuss the creations he cooks up in a cluttered shed behind his home. But not for the reasons of secrecy you might expect.
Until you’re successful with bringing an invention to market, people generally think that “you’re an old fool,” he says with a chuckle.