Wind-up bloke Baylis winds up broke, turns to UK gov for help

Africa radio man says Brit inventors need more patent protection


Trevor Baylis, the brains behind the wind-up radio and a shoe-powered phone charger, has called on the UK government to back Blighty's inventors.

And he is reported to be selling his one-bedroom self-designed house on a River Thames island in Twickenham after failing to convert his creations into a mountain of money.

He told The Telegraph that, like most inventors, he was good at coming up with ideas but not particularly brilliant at legally protecting his work, and thus was unable to fend off copycats. A number of companies, mostly overseas, built hand-cranked radios and mobile chargers for phones and MP3 players without paying him a penny.

Baylis wrote to the British government in 2009 to call for patent infringement to be upgraded from a matter for the civil courts to a full-blown criminal offence.

And this week, he told The Telegraph:

I was very foolish. I didn’t protect my product properly and allowed other people to take my product away. It is too easy to rip off other people’s ideas.

You have to take someone to court to stop them, but as a lone inventor, you just can’t afford to do that. If they just change the design slightly, then they can claim they have got around the patent.

The government needs to stand behind the lone inventor. There needs to be better support to help inventors keep their designs and to help them fight against the big boys.

Speaking of his south-west London home, he added: "I’m going to have to sell it or remortgage it – I’m totally broke. I’m living in poverty here."

Baylis still wants patent infringement to be treated as a criminal act, and urged ministers to give money and advice to engineers who, like him, are battling to defend their designs.

It’s a cause he fiercely strong about: he formed Trevor Baylis Brands in 2003 with others to help inventors learn about how to protect their inventions and gain routes to market for viable ideas.

Baylis devised the wind-up radio in 1991 having heard about the spread of AIDS in Africa and believed the equipment could disseminate information and educational programmes to combat the disease.

His prototype ran for just 14 minutes per charge and went into production in 1995 as the Freeplay radio. A follow-up in 1997 was smaller and lighter, and ran for up to an hour after only 20 seconds of winding. This version was again updated to include a solar panel.

Baylis was made an OBE for his work, and met the Queen and Nelson Mandela. He enjoyed widespread TV coverage on BBC's Tomorrow’s World, QED and on programmes on Sky. Baylis moved on from his radio to the Electric Shoe that could charge the wearer's mobile phones and other devices' batteries while walking. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Tesla driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after deadly Autopilot crash

    Prosecution seems to be first of its kind in America

    A Tesla driver has seemingly become the first person in the US to be charged with vehicular manslaughter for a deadly crash in which the vehicle's Autopilot mode was engaged.

    According to the cops, the driver exited a highway in his Tesla Model S, ran a red light, and smashed into a Honda Civic at an intersection in Gardena, Los Angeles County, in late 2019. A man and woman in the second car were killed. The Tesla driver and a passenger survived and were taken to hospital.

    Prosecutors in California charged Kevin George Aziz Riad, 27, in October last year though details of the case are only just emerging, according to AP on Tuesday. Riad, a limousine service driver, is facing two counts of vehicular manslaughter, and is free on bail after pleading not guilty.

    Continue reading
  • AMD returns to smartphone graphics with new Samsung chip for your pocket computer

    We're back in black

    AMD's GPU technology is returning to mobile handsets with Samsung's Exynos 2200 system-on-chip, which was announced on Tuesday.

    The Exynos 2200 processor, fabricated using a 4nm process, has Armv9 CPU cores and the oddly named Xclipse GPU, which is an adaptation of AMD's RDNA 2 mainstream GPU architecture.

    AMD was in the handheld GPU market until 2009, when it sold the Imageon GPU and handheld business for $65m to Qualcomm, which turned the tech into the Adreno GPU for its Snapdragon family. AMD's Imageon processors were used in devices from Motorola, Panasonic, Palm and others making Windows Mobile handsets.

    Continue reading
  • Big shock: Guy who fled political violence and became rich in tech now struggles to care about political violence

    'I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy,' billionaire VC admits

    Billionaire tech investor and ex-Facebook senior executive Chamath Palihapitiya was publicly blasted after he said nobody really cares about the reported human rights abuse of Uyghur Muslims in China.

    The blunt comments were made during the latest episode of All-In, a podcast in which Palihapitiya chats to investors and entrepreneurs Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, and David Friedberg about technology.

    The group were debating the Biden administration’s response to what's said to be China's crackdown of Uyghur Muslims when Palihapitiya interrupted and said: “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? ... I’m telling you a very hard ugly truth, okay? Of all the things that I care about … yes, it is below my line.”

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022