Vorsprung Durch Technik

There’s a catchy advert on British TV at the moment for Audi cars. It compares the number of patents NASA have to the number Audi have: “To date, Nasa have filed 6,509 patents. To get to the A6, Audi have filed 9,621 patents.”

Catchy certainly, but disingenuous. I have no idea if the figures are right or not, and I’m not going to dispute them. But of course NASA has only a few patents – nearly all it’s work is contracted out. Grumman, Rockwell North American, Boeing, Morton Thiokol, Lockheed and thousands of small businesses – they’re the ones that hold the patents. NASA doesn’t build spacecraft and boosters in the way Audi builds cars.

In a way I’m surprised that Audi have under 10000 patents after decades of car and engine development.


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