Jerome Lemelson was born in New York City and designed weapons and other systems for the Army Air Corps in World War II before attending college. After graduating from New York University, he worked on a Navy project at the university to develop rocket and pulse engines. As an independent inventor he obtained more than 500 patents.
In 1992 a group of Japanese automakers paid Lemelson 100 million USD for use of automated based on refinements of the device he had invented atmost 40 years earlier. A number of European and U.S. manufacturers soon followed suit, bringing Lemelson's take to more than US$500 million.
Mr. Lemelson publicly criticized the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for dragging out a patent process that took years before he was legally entitled to collect royalties, while corporations accused Lemelson of using the patent process to hide his ideas with so-called "submarine" patents.
He was well known for an annual US $500,000 award he created for inventors.
Lemelson died on October 1st, 1998.