In 2022, Florida boasted the most registered boats for recreation per capita. With the ocean on both sides and many waterways, we are a boating people. All that to say, this week’s post may appeal more to our Floridian audience. We’re looking at a recent design patent for a novel boat propeller.
The Sharrow MX Propeller
Sharrow Marine published their new design for the Sharrow MX Propeller through its patent application in May 2022. The patent design shows a more aerodynamic (should we say “aqua-dynamic”?) looking propeller, with smooth, radial loop blades rotating around a central hub.
The company has apparently been testing the propeller for four years, and their innovative shape seems to increase the propeller’s utility in many ways:
- More deft maneuvering, including high-speed tight turns
- Wider turning range
- Ability to plane at a lower RPM
- Less palpable vibration and noise
- More reverse thrust
- Greater fuel efficiency between 2500-4000 RPMs
Boat enthusiasts seem to agree. Boating Magazine awarded Sharrow the 2022 Marine Power Innovation award for the Sharrow MX.
Patents, Trust, & Nurturing Invention
Is there an IP moral to the story, or is this article just touting a new boat propeller? I want to emphasize that it took Sharrow Marine twelve years to research, develop, and test this propeller. During that time, they paid for employee salaries, materials, and test manufacturing with the faith that a final product would emerge. That’s a long runway.
What helps keep companies incentivized? How do they know their research and development will pay off?
This is where patents come in to protect inventors and innovative companies, so they may pursue their ideas. Because quality inventions can take so much time and resources, patents are often used to establish a monopoly of ownership to protect an initial investment, sometimes before the invention is even brought to market.
As a result, the possession of a patented invention helps establish clearer boundaries of exclusive ownership, which cultivates an environment of innovation for novel products and processes by allowing groups of people, businesses, and government agencies to openly work to develop new innovative solutions.
It is the ability to innovate in groups that often takes us farther – and the protection offered by a patent helps enable that innovative collaboration.