12.28.11

USPTO Ridiculed

Posted in Patents at 4:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Child's laughter

Summary: New posts about the US patent system, including examples of very bizarre patents

THE SOURCE of cynicism about society increasingly becomes the USPTO, which grants patents (monopolies) on things that make one wonder if it’s a hoax of not.

Here is a classic which was mentioned some days ago:

These were collected in the course of other research by Azeen Ghorayshi and put online as a slide show by Mother Jones magazine link here.

My favorite is #6 in the slides called “method of concealing partial baldness” patented on May 10, 1977. Here is the illustration for the patent which should have been denied on the grounds that it was already in wide use among the balding.

Zonker has becomes rather cynical as well and he helps debunk the idea that patents are indicative of innovation. To quote his new column:

A Deeply Flawed Infographic: Most “Innovative” Countries and Industries

[...]

Measuring an intangible like “most innovative” is tricky, at best. At worst, it’s a complete disaster, like measuring “most innovative” by using patents as a measure, like this infographic from Good and Column Five Media.

Here is another curious patent. “Anyone got a clue who might be behind this new patent?” That’s what was said by Evgeny Morozov, who found himself troubled by some patents. In another tweet he writes: “Missed this back in June: “Microsoft Patents ‘Legal Intercept’ Technology, Will Skype Have A Backdoor?”

How about this Orwellian patent?

“If you’re the giver or recipient of presents gift-wrapped by Amazon, you may want to take a gander at U.S. Patent No. 8,060,463, granted to Amazon last month for Mining of User Event Data to Identify Users with Common Interests. Among other things, Amazon explains the invention can be used to identify recipients of gifts as Christian or Jewish based on wrapping paper. From the patent: ‘The gift wrap used by such other users when purchasing gifts for this user, such as when the gift wrap evidences the user’s religion (in the case of Christmas or Hanukkah gift wrap, for example.)’”

“Wish PTO would give the gift of ending obvious patents,” said Tim O’Reilly. It seems like more and more people are getting the idea that the patent system is flawed. Acceptance of it is the first stage towards recovery. Previously, Mr. O’Reilly said: “We need some serious reform on software patents.”

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5 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    December 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes: the patent system is broken.

    Do you have any ideas to fix it?

    XFaCE Reply:

    Hmm… how about get rid of software patents, as he and others including Mike Cuban have suggested? In fact, I seem to recall Roy making this suggestion a million times. At the end of the day, it isn’t up to Roy to find solutions. Your snide passive-aggressive statement here is the same sort of ignorant crap used against OWS. The politicians and the experts involved are or should be smart to fix it, but they don’t because of various reasons.
    In short, your comment is a textbook example of being obstinate and juvenile, and I wish you would stop making such comments. As you seem to have a personal vendetta or obsession against Roy akin to Ahab and his whale, I unfortunately don’t see that happening any time soon.

    Michael Reply:

    Yes, Roy has made the suggestion to just eliminate software patents… but he has not said what he would use to prevent the plagiarism they are designed to prevent (not that the work well as they are).

    Your rant is very emotional. I merely asked if Roy (or others who read this) have ideas on how the legal system can deal with such plagiarism other than through patents. Apparently the answer, for you, is you do not. Perhaps it is this lack of any real answer that has you so clearly wound up (making accusations of passive aggressiveness, accusing others of ignorance, trying to put me on the defensive with other insults and accusations and stories about me and my motives that have nothing to do with me or this topic, etc.)

    In the end, though, I commend you for acknowledging you think the politicians and law makers should answer this question… not because I agree that they should be the ones with the answers but because you make it clear you do not have the answer. I admit I do not either.

    Roy’s idea to just stop trying to prevent such plagiarism is rather silly though… the problem is hard and neither he nor I nor you have an answer… but his idea of just giving up on even trying to come up with a reasoned answer is not better than the current situation, not unless you want to be very pro-plagiarism, which I am not. Sadly, the idea of being pro-plagiarism is pretty common in the “free” community – they think it is fine to copy others even if others do not want to be copied. Then they back pedal on that and say those that copy them must follow *their* rules (generally those defined in the GPL).

    dyfet Reply:

    You mean something…like say copyright?? :)

    Michael Reply:

    In terms of programming I believe copyright covers the code but not much else. If I am wrong please correct me. Thanks!

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