IBM Patents 'Paper Or Plastic'?
from the patent-examiners-apparently-don't-shop-much dept
Slashdot points us to the latest absurd patent to get approval from the USPTO. IBM has been granted a patent on the concept of storing your packaging preference information on your customer card. Yes, basically, the act of storing whether or not you like paper or plastic bags on your customer loyalty card is considered such an original idea that it deserves a monopoly.
We’ve been having some debates over the last few days in the comments on the question of “obviousness.” This patent hopefully demonstrates the point that many of us are trying to make. The defenders of the patent system will claim that this is a perfectly reasonable patent because no one has done it before (where’s the prior art, etc?). But that doesn’t get into whether or not this is actually obvious. Customer cards store all sorts of information. Should we give someone a patent on each and every one? The implementation isn’t hard at all. If you were to ask your average (or, even below average) techie, how they would go about storing and retrieving such information, they would do so in an instant. It simply makes no sense to award a long-term monopoly on adding just another bit of info to your customer card. And, yet, that’s the system we have these days.