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Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Now, That Cat Looks Like Hitler
Hitler Cat


PTO Has Got To Go
<Graham Champan>
Now stop that! Stop that sketch! Much too silly!
Get off! Go on, now! The lot of you!
</Graham Champan>

The patent situation in the United States has simply gotten too damned absurd for words. I have to wonder if I'm asleep, in the middle of a nightmare in which I play the leading role in some sort of horrifyingly stupid farce. But that would be entirely too much to hope for, I guess.

I have to wonder, though, if anyone over at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) actually left the building in the last twenty years? Do these people live in isolation someplace like the Congressional Bunker from the Cold War? Are they savants of some sort?

Yesterday afternoon, Associated Press released an article titled Patent fight rattles academic computing. In this article, they report that the USPTO awarded a patent to Blackboard, Inc., protecting the idea of making a Web-based educational institution work like a bricks-and-mortar school. Things like logging in to the institution and then progressing through different classes and such, the way a human in a physical school would. In other words, mimicing the real world in a virtual one.

As I write this, the front page of the USPTO web site contains an article titled USPTO Releases For Public Comment DRAFT Five-Year Roadmap for Continued World Leadership in IP Protection and Policy. The subtitle is "High Quality, Timely U.S. Patent and Trademark Reviews Head List of Objectives for Fostering American Innovation and Competitiveness".

Well, assuming they really want to "Foster American Innovation and Competitiveness", they're going about it in a really strange way. How the hell can anyone think that awarding a patent for something this bloody obvious in any way protects or promotes "Innovation and Competitiveness"? What the hell happened to the "novelty" and "non-obviousness" requirements for awarding a patent. Are the patent examiners really so out of touch with reality that they consider mimicing the physical world in a virtual one to be "novel", "original", or "non-obvious"? Do they even know what the words "novel" and "original" and "non-obvious" mean?

U, S, P, T, O
Those idiots have got to go!

If the "One Click" patent, and a devilish litany of stupid, absurd, or pointlessly obvious patents since, didn't convince you that the USPTO has some serious problems, then this one surely should. At least the Amazon "One Click" patent wasn't quite as obvious as mimicing the real world in a virtual one. How anyone, much less a patent examiner, could find that mimicing the real world in a virtual one has any novelty or "non-obviousness" whatsoever is way beyond my apparently limited capabilities to understand.

So, get on the horn to your so-called "Duly Elected Representatives" (DERs) and let them know just how stupid and absurd this situation has become. Let them know that you object not only to stupid, unoriginal patents like this one and "One Click", and all of the so-called "Business Methods" patents that the USPTO has gone so wild over the last few years. Let them know that you expect them to hold the USPTO accountable to improve the situation, and that you'll hold them accountable for any such improvment, or lack thereov, when the next election rolls around.


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