No, not New Englanders in a wizzing contest over football picks. This goes beyond our normal human failings. Besides specie embarrassment, this is patently costly too. A hand in your pocket get your attention? Beside that activity now; keep it clean.
Computer programmers are like carpenters or some other craftsman. It is the use of tools to construct a useful product. There is a very satisfying pride in the process of doing good to great work. But, it is seldom inventive at the good for mankind level. A plumber can’t patent a plumbing run.
Senator Patty Leahy (D-VT) has never met a Political Action Committee he didn’t like. Whore? That’s grounds for whores claiming defamation. He an author of “America Invents” with a nice little stack of restrictive additions. When we think of inventors we go high minded and stand in awe of Bell, Fulton, and the long list. But even then patents extended into dark corners. Watch Antiques roadshow. How do they date cast iron toys and banks? Patent dates.
This new bit from Washington makes it a first to file world. If craftsmen were allowed to patent their craft, you’d live in a tent. But, that seems to be the state of it all today.
That mechanical bank of a bear hiding his penny in a log is today’s standard in patent filing without the need for iron or molds. Apple has patented the apps store; they even went ahead and applied for a copyright on App Store. Their latest patent says only they should be allowed to market apps provided by third parties. You can see the gory details.
If you want to avoid a headache, just review one paragraph:
Accordingly, the present technology provides a purchasing interface within an application that allows users to purchase a product from another source without leaving the application. The application offers a product for purchase, and a user, desiring to purchase the product can provide an input effective to cause a purchasing interface to be displayed. While the purchasing interface, or information presented therein, comes from the product source, which is different than the application source, it is presented in such a fashion that gives the impression to the user that they are purchasing the product directly from the application.
It has other equally basic ideas that it wants to call its own. Does your purchase at Amazon differ from physical shopping beyond the obvious venue differences? Can’t you buy a program from that lying infomercial promising to double the speed of your computer or opt to download similar from some website? Does your town have a consignment store?
Package that and you got the Apple Apps Store. Give similar rights to objects back in time and the inventor of the doorknob might have a toll stop for accessing your bedroom. Patents have moved to the silly stage and to restricting competition.
In the EU, Germany has just issued an injunction against a Sony tablet to Apple because it resembles the I-pad. That taking it beyond silly. We’re back to Space Balls and ludicrous speed. There are were and will be product that resemble other products. The same parts exist in computers from every manufacturer. You can buy a Sony tablet here — even given, evidently, only America Invents.
I could give several more Apple examples but others are just as egregious. They are dotting eyes and crossing tees to limit or cripple competition — competition for your and my business.
Now the fine Senator and friends will tell us this is all for our own good. But, how long can that fly? We’ve seen the UIGEA, Patriot Act, and jobs programs and patent and copyright increases promise that it was for our good. So, take off your shoes and stand in line or bend over and pick up the soap. Senator Leahy has your back. Of course that what scares me and causes something to clench.
There is hardly anything in the programming world that deserves a patent. It is the electronic version of creating an assembly line. It is certainly deserving of trade secret status. That’s how Coke prospers. But, they can’t use that to eliminate Pepsi in the process.
Excuse me, I’m off to the patent office to patent clothes. Ignore the fig leaf folks, I want to be “First to File” in Senator Leahy’s brave new world.