Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some sense on patents please

On Monday Judge Robert Sweet struck a blow for common sense in that mind boggling area of Patents in the US. He invalidated several patents on two breast cancer risk genes in the human body issued to a bio tech firm. He had a breathtakingly simple logic – you can’t patent a product of nature !

The principle of protecting innovation through patents has been rather stretched in the US. All sorts of stuff gets patented. Many of these are primarily designed to block, or sue, others. The Patent Office uses the criteria of novel, non obvious and useful in determining whether a submission qualifies for a patent. It should also add non trivial, non absurd and non laughable as criteria !

For your reading pleasure here are some actual patents issued in the US

-Method of stopping a stolen car without a high-speed chase, utilizing a bar code (well ; the barcode is to identify the vehicle; the method of stopping it is to switch off the engine)

- Anti-Eating Mouth Cage (presumably a weight reduction “device”)

- Electrified table cloth (to discourage bugs from crawling on to the table cloth)

- Beerbrella (an umbrella attached to the beer can to keep the sun off your beer)

- Method of exercising a cat (waving a laser pointer and making the cat jump up and down)

- Device for the treatment of hiccups (a glass that delivers a mild electric shock when drinking to make you stop hiccuping)

- Motorized Ice Cream Cone (Instead of licking the cream manually, you stick out your tongue, the cone rotates and you can make designs on the ice cream without having to move your tongue)

- Animal Ear Protection (a device for preventing long eared dogs from getting their ears dirty from their food bowl)

- Device For Moistening The Adhesive Coating On Postage Stamps and Envelopes ( No kidding – the patent says, the applicator may be a human tongue)

- Hands free towel carrying system (A towel with a loop for hanging from the neck)

- Linear putter device of a golf club (well; a golf club)

- Equidae Excrement Receptacle (in plain English, a horse diaper)

- Hijacker Injector (a hypodermic injection apparatus that is installed on the seat and which the cabin crew can remotely activate to inject a hijacker)

- Gas Factory (a devise to strap on a cow’s back which taps the methane emitted by cows and converts into a biomass)

- Airplane moisturizer (a mask you wear which captures the moisture you exhale and gives it back to you when you inhale)

- Hand near mouth alarm (another dieter’s aid)

- Ultimate umbrella (a huge baseball cap mounted on your head)

- Cheese filtered cigarette (apparently hard cheese is a good filter and you can get a cheesy flavour to the smoke)

One of the readers of this blog actually worked for the US Patent office. Would welcome his rebuttal of this piece.