Microsoft Wants A Patent For Conjugating Verbs

from the I-Am-You-Are-He-She-It-Is dept

theodp writes "Microsoft's just goofing on us, right? Its latest batch of published patent applications includes one for Conjugating a Verb." Sort of reminds me of the Onion's satirical piece on Microsoft patenting 1s and 0s -- but this one is for real. It's just an application, so it hasn't been granted -- but it says something about how easy it is to get a patent these days that Microsoft and its lawyers would even think this is worth applying for. When so many bogus patents get approved, and the awards for enforcing them are so high, it only encourages more ridiculous patents to be filed -- which probably contributes a lot more to the supposed staffing problem at the patent office than anything else. If the USPTO followed the original purpose of the patent system, to only grant patents in the rarest of circumstances, then the issue of hiring more patent examiners wouldn't even be up for discussion at all.

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 31 Aug 2006 @ 6:10pm

    Re: Re: Which is right

    From the link I provided:

    He "agreed that inventors should have full rights to their inventions" but worried about the constitutionality of patents and that patents would delay the arrival of new inventions to the public. And, he believed that the "abuse of frivolous patents is likely to cause more inconvenience than is countervail by those really useful." (As cited in McLaughlin, 1998).

    It also notes that he set up strict rules and wanted to make sure each patent was truly new and truly added to science.

    He created a very specific and strict definition for what would obtain a patent and what would not. Jefferson's first test for judging inventions was that they had to be useful. A patent would not be given when it was an old invention built with a different material or if it was just another application of something already invented (Malone, 1951).

    Jefferson often insisted on testing the invention himself, not just reading the specifications or examining the models. He once brought in several chemists to test a devise that claimed to turn salt water into fresh. Even though it showed promise, a patent was not granted because it did not work as expected.

    The procedure he developed was careful and time consuming.

    "The Board of Arts met the last Saturday of every month and then read all the applications received since the last meeting. These lay over for another month, but were not acted on then unless suitable specifications, drafts, or models had been submitted. Beginning in July, 1791, the three members read the descriptions separately in their own lodgings, the Attorney General first in order that he might pass on the propriety of the forms. The criticisms and amendments suggested by all three were consolidated by Remsen, the chief clerk of the department, and were considered by the entire group (Malone, 1951)."

    Perhaps it's open to interpretation, but my read on that is someone who is pretty clear that he only wants to award patents when it's clear the patent is actually encouraging innovation.

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