Inventor: Paul Allen
Filed: August 27, 2010
Abstract: A method for preventing innovation, specifically in the tech sector, by way of a dangerous misconception of what is patentable and a sadly overtaxed intellectual property regulatory system.
Summary of the Invention: During a period of change and invention, ideas may occur to a person, and a few possible ways of manifesting those ideas. By instantly submitting a patent request, the person can secure as their own property not only the methods they have actually invented, but all possible derivatives and independent creations resembling said methods. After waiting a suitable period of time, during which the entire landscape of the industry may change, the patent holder then can exchange these patents for riches, while simultaneously nullifying the gains of a decentralized, idea-powered economy.
There are so many things wrong with Paul Allen’s reprehensible and baffling lawsuit that we might do better by trying to figure out what he’s doing right, and then condemn what remains.
Take a look at the patents:
6,263,507: Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data.
6,757,682: Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.
Really, at least give them a good once-over. Because they certainly aren’t without merit. The 507 patent, filed for in 1999, is forward-thinking and acknowledges the need (then not particularly pressing) for obtaining samples or a summary of far more information than one could possibly review by simply browsing it. And the 682 patent, from 2000, is right on in suggesting the need for more or less real-time notifications showing items related the user’s interest.
The patents provide some specific implementations of these ideas — good ideas, too. And those implementations should be protected by law, since they are essentially machines invented part and whole by the filer. But the step taken by Allen today and similar steps taken by others in recent years indicate a deliberately overreaching interpretation of what exactly they have been granted rights to.
Here’s a revealing excerpt, from page 16 of patent 682:
It should be appreciated that the present invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a process, an apparatus, a system, a device, a method, or a computer readable medium such as a computer readable storage medium or a computer network wherein program instructions are sent over optical or electronic communication links. Several inventive embodiments of the present invention are described below.
Well, well! Apparently they are filing for several patents here. The invention itself, some “inventive embodiments” of that invention, and all possible embodiments of that invention, which they lay claim to simply by suggesting that such and such an embodiment could potentially exist.
Please permit me a slight digression.
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