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They Could Have Been Billionaires


Sometimes just having a brilliant idea isn't enough to guarantee the financial windfall that should follow.

It's a tough world out there for inventors and creative minds. Sometimes just having a brilliant idea isn't enough to guarantee the financial windfall that should follow.

For instance, let's say you're the guy who dreamed up the notion of karaoke, and followed through by creating the necessary machine. If you were too busy crooning in nightclubs, not thinking about the moneymaking potential of your creation, you might miss the chance to cash in on a global sensation worth an estimated $110 million in royalties alone.

What if an ill-informed lawyer tells you that a method of injecting a toxin into facial muscles, reducing wrinkles, isn't patentable? You might watch someone else make billions from your anti-aging treatment Botox.

And what of the men who gave us pink bubble gum, potato chips, the oil drill, satellites, the ATM, even the World Wide Web. Not one ever took out legal patents. Not one amassed the wealth that would otherwise have been theirs.

Here, Minyanville looks at the personal stories of these inventors to find out who's held regrets, who had none, and who just wishes he could receive "a certificate or something."

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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