Are Tech Patents Overrated? These Crazy Patents Say Yes!
Technology patents are getting ridiculous. Every day we see another high profile case between companies seeking to impose legal bans on the sale of their competitors’ wares based on overly broad and ill-defined patents. As the Inquisitr has noted on many occasions, there are many patent spats currently being fought by overly litigious tech corporations, including the famous grudge match between Apple and Samsung, the makers of the bestselling iPhone and Galaxy S II, respectively.
While patents serve an important function in encouraging innovation in that they provide exclusive use of novel technologies to their developers for a predetermined period of time, it was once understood that patents were to be granted only for existing products that have been developed and actually freaking work.
However, it seems that now any corporation with a legal team will immediately patent any concept, no matter how broad, even if no product or technology has been developed. For example, Apple has just patented the use of gestures to control a tablet. Hello? Microsoft Kinect anyone? How can you patent using gestures to control anything? There is extensive prior art.
As Ars Technica once noted, “If Android is a “stolen product,” then so was the iPhone.”
Ars noted that:
The current legal battles over smartphones are a sequel to the “look and feel” battle over the graphical user interface (GUI) in the late 1980s. Apple lost that first fight when the courts ruled key elements of the Macintosh user interface were not eligible for copyright protection. Unfortunately, in the last 20 years, the courts have made it much easier to acquire software patents. Apple now has more powerful legal weapons at its disposal this time around, as do its competitors. Together, there’s a real danger that the smartphone wars will end by stifling competition.
Interestingly enough, several recent patents filed by “inventors” have proven Ars’ claims by showing just how ridiculous or impossible an idea can be and still be granted legal protection.
In an article in the latest issue of MacLife Magazine, writer Roberto Baldwin noted that among recently patented “inventions” are”
A TIME MACHINE
In a patent filing from 2004, Marlin B. Pohlman laid claim to “Method of gravity distortion and time displacement,” in effect, a time machine.
A Teleportation Pad
While we are looking at impossible patents, let’s not forget the “Full body teleportation system.” I wonder if he had to show a working prototype at the patent office?
A Perpetual Motion Machine
What would you say if I told you I had a perpetual motion machine in my basement? You would probably back away slowly while avoiding eye contact. The folks at the US Patent Office, however, (you guessed it) decided to grant a patent. According to this patent, there now exists a “space vehicle propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state is provided comprising a hollow superconductive shield, an inner shield, a power source, a support structure, upper and lower means for generating an electromagnetic field, and a flux modulation controller,” in other words, a perpetual motion machine.
While these patents are obviously absurd, they do tend to illustrate the argument that tech patents have become overly broad and have begun to stifle innovation. So the next time you wish to bash Apple, Samsung, Sony, Nokia or any other company for stealing ideas, please put their patents and legal squabbles in the proper context.