1) The adjacent possible, being similar technologies that can be adapted to new purposes
2) Liquid networks: being networks of similar ideas and contacts
3) The slow hunch, being an idea that can turn many years that can grow from a kernal of an idea
4) Serendipity - sometimes being in the right place in the right time helps
5) Error: mistake happen, and sometimes these can lead to surprising outcomes
6) 'Exaptation', being the use of one technology for a second purpose in a way not expected by the creator of the original idea. The internet is a great example of this.
7) Platforms, being technology platforms that can other technologies, and again the internet is a great example of this.
Johnson then goes on to argue that patents are bad for innovation, as they prevent sharing of ideas. Personally, I do not agree - patents can assist sharing of new ideas as their developers can confidentially share them knowing that their ownership has been legally claimed, as per the views discussed in an earlier blog on the effects of patent on innovation.
Putting this disagreement aside, this book is clearly thought provoking. Perhaps the biggest message is that ideas rarely happen in a vacuum, which the underlying concept in many of Johnson's seven principles. Instead they tend to grow from a network of related ideas.
We see exactly the same in the patent literature. Patents also rarely exist in a vacuum, but instead tend to grow from earlier ideas (and in turn can lead to further ideas). This is recognised in the patent literature through citation networks, where earlier patents are cited against patents being examined. For this reason Ambercite has developed AmberScope to visualise these networks, and an example of an output from an AmberScope search is shown below. Every dot shown is a patent either directly or indirectly connected to the 'focus' patent, which is the patent you started from.
There are a number of benefits from such networks, such as efficiently finding prior art by exploring these networks.
Also, attorneys and other users I have spoken to who have tested AmberScope have liked the ability to put a given patent into context of related patents, each which can be regarded as an idea. This allows the user to start to understand how valuable the idea might be and to consider the best means of protecting this or similar ideas.
Just like ideas, patents rarely grow in a vacuum but instead benefit from, and then form part of a network of related idea. AmberScope shows these networks, and can bring them to life in a unique and insightful manner.