Originally Posted by RickyMaveety
But they may be patentable once reduced to plans, drawings, or a formula.
...which, in the digital age, has led to people trying to patent a single-mouseclick buying operation
, using pgup/pgdn
to get to certain parts of pages, and really all manner of ludicrous ideas
, completely swamping the USPTO and creating things like patent trolls
. Lawrence Lessig has an interesting article
No doubt we are better off with a patent system than without one. Lots of research and invention wouldn't occur without the government's protection. But just because some protection is good, more isn't necessarily better. Especially in cyberspace. There is growing skepticism among academics about whether such state-imposed monopolies help a rapidly evolving market such as the Internet. What is "novel," "nonobvious" or "useful" is hard enough to know in a relatively stable field. In a transforming market, it's nearly impossible for anyone - let alone an underpaid worker in the U.S. Department of Commerce who spends on average of eight hours evaluating the prior art in a patent and gets paid based on how many he processes - to identify what's "novel." Costly mistakes get made. On average it takes $1.2 million to challenge the validity of a patent, which means it is often cheaper simply to pay the royalties than to establish that the patent isn't deserved.
"Bad patents" thus become the space debris of cyberspace. Nowhere is this clearer than in the context of business-method patents