Possibly the best invention never to be commercialised…

Few have heard of the story of inventor Maurice Ward, a hairdresser from Yorkshire and a keen amateur inventor. His ingenious invention arose as a result of Ward seeing the aftermath of the Manchester runway disaster in 1985 when a number of aeroplane passengers perished due to inhalation of toxic smoke which had seeped into the fuselage.

The accident made amateur inventor Maurice Ward think as it was the toxic fumes from the smoke that killed the passengers, and not the actual fire. Maurice was inspired to devise a painted product that didn’t burn.

He very soon invented Starlite which could withstand temperatures of 1000°C and could easily be painted on to a variety of surfaces.

The invention gained publicity after it appeared on Tomorrow’s World. Peter McCann, the presenter, held a blowtorch directly to an egg that had been coated in Starlite. After five minutes under direct contact with the flame, he picked the egg up telling viewers that it felt ‘warm’ and then cracked the egg open to reveal a completely raw egg inside.

After appearing on TV, Maurice was contacted by numerous private companies, defence researchers and even NASA. Starlite was subjected to a simulated nuclear onslaught and what can only be compared to 75 Hiroshimas.It survived everything!

Although Maurice entered into negotiations, he did not formally contract with any party and never explained the details of the invention to anyone – nor did he patent it. Newspaper articles say that Ward wouldn’t sign confidentiality agreements, which made government and defence companies uncooperative. He insisted on keeping 51 per cent in any joint ventures and could not agree to license as he believed they would attempt to reverse engineer the invention.

Maurice Ward died in 2011 and it seems he took his invention to the grave with him.

We don’t expect everyone to have a ground breaking invention like Maurice. However, any invention, design or idea that you have is important to you and your business. The only reasons for devising something new and ground breaking has to be to either make money from it, or let it help mankind in general. Either way eventually you have to share your secrets or risk them never being used. At Virtuoso Legal, we can help you with intellectual property, whatever your motivates you to create something unique.

Give us a call on 0844 8008871 for a no obligation chat to see how we might be able to help with asset commercialisation and advise you. With offices in Leeds and London we cover the whole of the UK.

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