history of cartography; map projection; patents; invention; achievement motivation theory; John Parr Snyder
National Science Foundation
Geography | Other Geography | Physical and Environmental Geography
John Parr Snyder claimed that patenting a map projection was largely pointless because essentially similar transformations are readily available in the public domain. Map projection patents are rare, many patentees did not attempt to develop their patents, and none who did seems to have made much money. An explanation for their decision to patent lies in recognition that the patent system and peer-reviewed scientific journals are parallel literatures, either of which can satisfy an innovator’s need for attention, as suggested by achievement motivation theory. Moreover, no single factor can account for the invention of a map projection that was patented: not mathematical expertise; not work experience as a draftsman, map publisher, or professional geographer; and not prior experience with the patents system. But for all but one of the seventeen inventors for whom microdata research tools yielded basic details about their lives, at least one of these factors was present.
Monmonier, Mark. "Motives for Patenting a Map Projection: Did Fame Trump Fortune?" The Cartographic Journal 55:2 (2018): 196-202.
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Available for download on Saturday, January 18, 2020