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Stupid E-Patents

This "business process on the Internet" patenting is patently ridiculous. The patent office is now allowing the patenting of goals, not just technology. It is getting extremely silly.

They are simply taking common, unpatentable physical or verbal processes, and patenting the act of making an electronic version of them. They are not patenting specific algorithms, but merely the computer emulation or simulation of something that is currently being done by hand.

Did anybody successfully patent delivering goods by car when horses started to fall out of style in the 1900's? The "transport mechanism" will always change. Before it was doing X by paper and horses, then doing X by phone, today it is doing X by the Internet. Should I patent the mere act of delivering pizzas by ion rockets before some other slime-ball does?

Just because a common practice happens using 1's and 0's instead of by phone or on a piece of paper is no reason to be granted a patent.

For example, one man has a patent for "sending moving images over the Internet" [paraphrased]. His patent specified no new algorithm, no new data compression method, no new protocols, etc. In other words, it is vague and empty of any real technical content. He neither invented the Internet, nor moving pictures. Yet he has the patent rights to this simple combination, regardless of the technical details actually used to carry it out. These are the kinds of patents being granted these days. Thus, if you watch movies over the web, you may have to (indirectly) pay this slime-ball royalties.

I almost suspect bribery at the patent office. Hey, perhaps I should patent bribery via the web! That is a common business practice using the new "transport mechanism," isn't it? Sounds like it qualifies to me.

STOP THIS NONSENSE! It reduces competition and puts your money into lawyers' and slime-balls' pockets.

For you programmers out there, here is the algorithm to generate stupid patents of the type being accepted and abused right now:

  h = openFile("ordinary_business_behavior.txt");
  while (w = readNextWord(h)) {
    if (random(0.0,1.0) > 0.96) {
       w = w + " using a computer ";
It basically says, Take a textual description of any common or typical business process (currently being done by hand or by phone), and sprinkle the phrase "using a computer" liberally throughout. To be a bit more thorough, perhaps it should be "using a computer or computer network".

That is the simple recipe for stupid e-patents. (Warning: I might patent the process of automating stupid e-patents.)

Possible Solution - Fixed Percents

One possible solution to absurd patents is to require that every product sold pay a "patent tax" of a fixed percent, just like a sales tax.

How that portion is divvied up is between patent claimants and the patent office, not the manufactures nor resellers. It would be up to the different patent claimers to haggle with each other and the courts instead of the manufacturer, reseller, or user. The biggest issue a patent holder would have to deal with is whether or not a patent applies to a given product. If it does apply, then the holder gets the same share percent that every other patent holder for that product gets. For example, if the patent tax is 4 percent (example only, not a recommended amount) and there are 4 patent claimants to the product, then each claimant receives 1 percent of the sales price, or 25 percent of the patent tax on that item. The seller does not have to deal directly with the claimants. (In some ways it is similar to the music royalties system.)

You might be thinking that the last thing we need is yet another tax; but we pay anyhow now, just in a less organized fashion. This recommendation just moves the legal haggling to an area that does not hinder patent usage. One can make and sell a product without worrying about surprise or silly patent lawsuits.

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