Idea or invention?

Marketing polymath Seth Godin was asked for his distinction between an idea and an invention on his blog today. I think it is important and worth sharing right here:

An idea is something you can write about in a science fiction book.

An invention is when you build something that people who read about it in the science fiction book said was impossible

Before we venture into our next startup and invest capital (Human or Financial) it is worth knowing which one we have.



  1. Sam Sabey · August 22, 2011

    If the idea is patented, will writing about it in a Science Fiction book infringe?

    • Steve Sammartino · August 22, 2011

      I guess it would depend on whether the patent involved some form oh physical manifestation ?

      Not sure…

  2. Andre Sammartino · August 24, 2011

    Seth’s SF reference is all of a sudden very pertinent given Samsung’s defence to Apple’s current litigation (that the iPad idea already appeared in 2001 Space Odyssey (and otehr SF gems)):

    • Steve Sammartino · August 25, 2011

      Yep, I agree, But I think they key point is that ‘visual design’ versus function are two very different things…. and Apple – I believe incorrectly are claiming against the copying of the outer shell design. I reckon the Space Odyssy defence will hold up…


  3. Pingback: Vrijdagvideo: Seth Godin – On the tribes we lead | #vrijdagvideo | Doeland's Digitale Wereld

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