Patent bending
July 17, 2003 6:15 AM   Subscribe

The New Yorker's James Surowiecki writes about patent creep. With eBay losing one court case and being threatened by another, Spike Lee trying to stop his first name being used, Amazon owning the concept of threaded discussions, the never-ending Un*x wars, and bands trying to protect certain chord progressions (OK that one's a hoax), is this a worrying pattern that needs to be reversed, and is it just the beginning of an anti-competitive trend that will see our own genes being patented?
posted by cbrody (10 comments total)
I believe I own the patent on asking a question at the end of a MetaFilter post. You can send the $4.19 you owe me via PayPal.
posted by byort at 6:30 AM on July 17, 2003

Great post cbrody. I work for a manufacturer of furniture and have to conduct due diligence because we are being sued by a famous baseball player for having a product that has the same product name as his last name (which is not by any means distinctive).
posted by Yossarian at 6:32 AM on July 17, 2003

One of the more distressing manifestations of this is when pharmaceutical companies patent new processes and compounds even though they have no use in mind for them - they do this merely to raise drug development costs for their competitors, and potentially rob them of opportunities to develop lucrative products.
posted by stonerose at 7:06 AM on July 17, 2003

What a great post! This is how it should be. *nostalgic tear*.

Now I have to think of a great idea to patent before the bandwagon moves on. Putting water into a receptacle for transport to the mouth? Hmm...
posted by bonaldi at 7:10 AM on July 17, 2003

The print copy of the New Yorker article has a rather cute cartoon which is unfortunately not in the online version -- some sort of proto-amphibian is crawling out of the water, but is confronted by another, wearing a stern look on its face and presenting a patent (presumably for the process of "living on land").
posted by tingley at 7:36 AM on July 17, 2003

I'm thinking of patenting a method of patenting an idea, by means of bribing patent officers with offers of one's first-born child. As this is a new, unobvious and useful innovation, is there any reason why it shouldn't be possible?

byort: of course, I forgot. The cheque's in the post.

tingley: cartoon coming right up. Sod copyright law.
posted by cbrody at 7:41 AM on July 17, 2003

posted by cbrody at 7:49 AM on July 17, 2003

That image should have linked to Christoph Niemann's site.
posted by cbrody at 7:55 AM on July 17, 2003

I'm patenting the phrase "Trout Fishing". Try Googling THAT to see how many people will owe me 49 cent royalty checks.

Bwahahaha! BWAHhahahaha!
posted by troutfishing at 8:06 AM on July 17, 2003

Has anyone patented "Hunting for Bambi" yet?
posted by GrahamVM at 8:09 AM on July 17, 2003

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