Sunday, September 6, 2009

Interesting Patents

These days anything can be patented, like "Method of Swinging on a Swing", or "Method to watch TV, talk to your wife, and work at the same time" (by the way, I am planning to patent that!). World patent system, especially USPTO, has become an overworked and revenue driven institution that require a complete overhaul.

This week I came across 2 interesting patents - one from Google and one from IBM. Google patented the classic "search page" with a big text box in the middle with minimal buttons. Yes, this is for an HTML page with a text box and couple of buttons. Be careful creating simple HTML pages, you may be in violation of something!

Second was more interesting. IBM patented a gadget such as TV remote that can Tweet and participate in other social conversations. Yup, you don't even need to type in anything. With a click of a button, you can post what you are watching to your favorite social networking website. I am sure, this will surely start an avalanche patents such as "cars that can tweet where you are going", "microwave that can tweet what you are cooking", and so on. See the patent automatic blogging while media viewing.

As long as patent lawyers exist and they drive the reforms, I doubt we can see any improvement on mad rush for patents and lawsuits. I am all for patents to drive innovation and do believe credit should be given to inventors. But, I am totally against patent enforcements and lawsuits. It's time for an "Open Source Patent" system.


  1. Pramod,
    Some companies invest a lot in RnD, hence they are the rightful owner of any profit gained by the product/idea. The best example would be pharmaceutical companies. I mean why would a company invest billion of dollars in research to find a cure or some salt, which can be copied by some other company.

    However silly ideas like google's search page, and IBMs patent do nothing but hamper the way a technology or an idea can be put to better use.

    There has to a middle path somewhere!!

  2. Before: "Computer assisted method to perform X", where X is any process which was being performed manually in the past

    After: "Novel communication method to tweet/IM/email X", where X is any thing you wish to communicate to anyone.

    Where would innovation be if it were not for patents :-)

  3. Don't get me wrong. I am not against Patents and innovation. Patent process did two things - give proper due and credit to the inventor and secondly create a legal framework for the inventor to get paid. I am all for the first one. I am quite OK with second part too provided we avoid extremely generic and silly patents.

    So, either we fix the patent process to allow ONLY true inventions or let everything to be patented using an "open source style patent model" avoiding the enforcement part.

    Whole system is degenerated into providing jobs for 1000's of patent lawyers! It's so expensive to patent, only large companies can afford to do so. I am sure there are 100's of small inventors even in India who can't afford to apply for global patents.

    Really appreciate all for your comments.

  4. Hi I am Subeesh. The discussion is interesting

    I believe the patent system should be very simple for an inventor to access. As Pramod told there are lot of small inventors are there who has no idea how to protect their ideas.

    Even I have a plan to work for them and protect their ideas and generate money from that for them.