Wednesday, November 29, 2006

(Probably) Coming to a real world near you: Weeding out weak patents

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This has become the day and age of patenting anything and everything. And, it has also become the age of extensive patent litigation.

But these are issues to deal with companies willfully infringing each other's patents, and letting the "lawyers take care of it". The lawyers are in no way doing an unenvious job of earning themselves some really good slices of the outcomes.

However, the Supreme Court of the United States is dealing with a different issue.

When does a patent stop making sense? When it represents a product or a method to produce a product that is very intuitive for the average person in the field.

Okay, and now the Supreme Court Judges are addressing a particular patent with pet names or silly appellations from the '30s. But is that how patents are issued and argued over nowadays? If you start thinking about the intuitive ability of average people, you have to define who is intuitive and who is average.

We go back to the problem of the abilities of our friendly primates becoming suddenly able to reproduce Shakespeare's works. And I do understand that there may be those of you who truly believe Shakespeare himself was a primate. Those feelings of yours aside, where does this classification stop?

Can we stop issuing patents altogether? How many patents can survive the onslaught of suppose-able "intuitive average-ness"? Not many. So do we stop worrying about intellectual property altogether?

I am glad (and so are many), I am not writing some of these "historic" judgements that can be questioned over and over for years to come....

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