Patents: Crease & Increase

At first glance, San Francisco's Koratron Co., Inc., seems to be merely a little outfit with a big name. Its offices are located in the city's seedy Mission District. Its small staff is crammed into a bare bullpen and a few spartan cubicles. Koratron sells neither a product nor a service, but an idea. The idea, however, is the biggest thing to hit the clothing industry since Sanforizing appeared 35 years ago: a formula for permanently creasing fabrics.

Organized only 21 months ago, Koratron already does an $18 million business, has 413...

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