|Monty Hyams (1918-2013): Patent Information Pioneer||home||intro||derwent||personal||downloads||links|
In 1947, at the age of 29 I got a job as a research chemist with the Pyrene Company on the Great West Road, near London Airport, at a salary of £350 per year.
The Pyrene Company, famous for its fire extinguishers, had several other interests -- including a Metal Finishing Division, to which I was assigned. The main activity of this Division was the supply of chemicals for the rustproofing of car bodies prior to paint spraying. The process, known as Bonderizing, consisted of immersing the whole car body in a hot solution of mainly phosphoric acid and zinc nitrate, so as to deposit a protective coating of zinc phosphate. Current practice at the time was to add nitroguanidine as an 'accelerator' of the process -- my task was to find a cheaper and more efficient substitute for nitroguanidine.
I reported to an outside consultant, Dr Johnson, a likeable academic specialising in electrochemistry. He had managed to convince the Pyrene management that the problem should be tackled in a scientific manner by recording the changes in electromotive force at the surface being treated -- at different pH, temperatures and phosphate concentrations in the presence of different 'accelerators.' As a result of this research we did in fact find a particularly effective additive and patent protection was taken out for it.
.........Just as the research was coming to an end, I had an amazing stroke of luck, destined to change my whole career.
The Pyrene Company had for some time entered a team of four in a local duplicate bridge business-to-business league. The team consisted of the Financial Director partnered by the Chief Shop Steward, and me, partnered by the Patents Manager -- quite a motley crew. Unfortunately for him, my bridge partner developed thrombosis and was forced to seek early retirement from the company. Fortunately he named me, his bridge partner, as successor, particularly since I had been involved in a number of patent applications.
Immediately my whole outlook on life had been transformed. Not only was I freed form the drudgery of the laboratory bench, but I was introduced to the wonderful world of patents at management level.