US Tech Patents Are Out Of Control

… but that’s not news. It’s beyond being salvaged and complaints are pointless. I just wanted a place to post the most egregious and/or absurd offenses. Feel free to cite your own favorites.

Prompted by this report:

Purely a refinement of the Commodore 64 (my first “real computer”), Sinclair, et al as the article itself states. In what bizarro world is this a new invention worthy of patent protection?!

Ours, of course. :roll_eyes:


No, it is Apple’s world, we just get to exist in it…

Apple just patented the book of Genesis so you are probably right… they want everyone to believe it started with an apple with a capital A.

Is that before or after the Book of Jobs?


Resident lawyers here correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t most patents by large tech corporations these days, defensive in nature?

Ie. The cost of not-patenting an (obvious) product concept is huge downside risk. While having a new product backed by a granted patent from the USPTO, makes it far harder for potential litigation (they would need to invalidate your patent first) and secures your R&D.

It also builds up an IP portfolio which is useful for cross-licensing (ie. you won’t sue me, and I won’t sue you, so let’s actually get to business) agreements, and looks good on marketing and investor reports.

The real question is why would they not grant the patents left-and-right? The companies gain, the USPTO gets more ‘throughout’, and the national statistics bureau gets to say the whole country’s ‘innovation is up’. It’s all win-win-win, right? :wink:

Bad, Apple, bad!

@Marty - that is a really tough question. I think companies like Apple, Samsung, M$, etc. patent nearly anything they can think of (and render in engineering drawings) to keep competition at bay for future concepts. It’s the old story of “a competent prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich” - patent lawyers can patent the sandwich wrapper…

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■■■■ good question without a good answer. It’s a “chicken or the egg” issue. As long as the patent office continues to issue patents in response to ridiculous applications and the Courts continue to enforce these patents, competitors are in a Catch 22, where they simply must get out-in-front with any new products or designs generated by their operations. The cycle has spiraled out of control in the last 30 years.


@Bronsky’s reply is better and more accurate than mine (I’m being cynical as usual), but this Apple patent does partially support my position in that there have been NUMEROUS prior “computer in a keyboard” designs going back 30 years (Commodore 64, Atari ST, Coleco, etc.) up to and including @Tams Pi 400.

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The best lawyer answer would be, “what’s the problem?” Patent applications and litigation are paying a lot of tuition bills across the nation for attorney’s children. Often in expensive, elite schools. If I were starting out as a lawyer and had a background in STEM (I did) or engineering, I would probably be looking for an intellectual property position and would direct my practice development in that area. Patent law may be one of the few “white shoe” practices left in the profession.

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I’ve always been curious, is there any growing movement within the legal community for patent reform? If I were an engineering student that did a post graduate in IP law, I think I would be very keen to consult legislators (if only preserve my own sanity).

With the public zeitgeist behind improving intellectual property law now, I think this actually might good for career prospects for up-and-comers.

The small inventors lose. These shotgun patent filings serve to deter smaller concerns from even attempting something that might trespass and instigate litigation. They can’t afford it. It’s defensive for the big companies, yes, and they win automatically in a huge IP swath. So you don’t see little guys coming out with interesting inventions or refinements of old inventions that should be public domain by now. Like the computer-in-a-keyboard concept.

Patents like these accomplish the opposite of what the patent office was designed to do: promote invention. They stifle it instead.


Spot on…yet who crys foul the most when they get sued for patent infringement - Timmy & Co.

What really burns me is that Apple and the others have smart and talented people on their staff digging into these ideas, slapping patents on them, and all the while they have no intention of ever making these things. It’s just to stop others from making them or to profit from licensing if anyone else puts in the work to create something new. :anger:


This strategy did not start with tech. General Motors was famous (or infamous) for doing this, killing off competition from fledgling carmarkers and parts manufacturers.

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