Friday, November 04, 2005

Patents are crap

If you had any doubt before about the dubious nature of most patent applications within the last 10/15 years (think of any 'business practice' or patented DNA segment) then this is just the icing on the cake. As reported in slashdot, a guy is likely to get a US patent awarded on a storyline plot.
Talk about a load of crap, there are no original story ideas, just variations on a few themes (Heinlein speculated somewhere that you could boil them all down into just 3 but i've never been able to find the quote again). You'd think this one would fail the prior existence test (it's basically a rip van winkle plot tarted up to modern times) but given the ineptitude of the patent offices (or rather the constraints they work under given the laws haven't been updated for a half century or so) and the effectiveness of business lobby groups (owner copyright expiring on death+20 years has now increased to something like +75 - Thank You Very Much Disney corp.) i have a sinking feeling that it, or something very much like it, will get through and then the modern marvel of the US court system will be brought to bear on the issue with its trademark glacial rate and non-sensical outcome results that we have learned to love so much.
Patents barely protect innovators as it is, don't cripple the system by extending their reach to stupid limits, fix the freakin' problem at source! Change the law, the rest of the world has moved on from the mid-1880's!


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