San Francisco Game Designer Creates Program That Converts Any Text Into A Patent Application

from the probably-a-patentable-process-itself dept

The US patent system is still largely broken, despite years of promises to clean the mess up. As we covered last week, Amazon was recently granted a patent to a photography method that's been in common use for years. Also recently, it was noted that the patent office has resumed its regularly-scheduled programming and is granting as many patents as humanly possible.

With the office running at full speed, there's no time like the present to submit your patent application to the rubber-stamping machine. The specifics of the application are less important than overall appearance of professionalism, so why not hand the creation job over to automation as well?

Sam Lavigne (a SF-based artist and game designer) has created a program that turns any text into a not-entirely-unbelievable patent application.

I wrote a program that transforms literary and philosophical texts into patent applications. In short, it reframes texts as inventions or machines. You can view the code on github.

I was partially inspired by Paul Scheerbart’s Perpetual Motion Machine, a sort of technical/literary diary in which Scheerbart documents and reflects on various failed attempts to create a perpetual motion machine. Scheerbart frequently refers to his machines as “stories” – I wanted to reverse the concept and transform stories into machines.
Levine's post goes into more detail on how this is achieved, starting with the standard formation of most patent applications, whose titles are generally of the "Method and device for xxxx" variety. The resulting applications generated by his code definitely have the patois of the patent process down cold. When attempting to patent something obvious or already patented, the ability to spin a thick web of dense text is a necessity. Lavigne's algorithms don't disappoint. Here's a bit from The Communist Manifesto: the Patent Application ("A method and device for comprehending, theoretically, the historical movement.")
Figure 1 is an isometric view of the progressive historical development of the proletariat.

Figure 5 is a diagram of the whole superincumbent strata of official society.

Figure 8 is a perspective view of the first conditions for emancipation.

Figure 10 schematically illustrates the French criticism of the bourgeois State.

Figure 11 is a block diagram of an independent section of modern society.

Figure 12 schematically illustrates the disastrous effects of machinery and division.

Figure 14 is a cross section of the misty realm of philosophical fantasy.

Figure 15 is a perspective view of an agrarian revolution as the prime condition.
Lavigne has also provided samples derived from "The Hunger Artist" by Franz Kafka and "The Question Concerning Technology" by Martin Heidegger.

At some point in the future, Lavigne plans to release a version that will implement any user input, meaning that any person's blog/Twitter feed/email will soon have a shot at US Patent Office validation. In the meantime, the code is available at Github for "innovators" wishing to get a head start on non-coding rivals.

It's an interesting exercise in bending unrelated texts to the formats and formalities of patent applications. The fact that its creations are no less credible than some actual patent applications isn't necessarily an indictment of the system, which, at the application point, is wholly dependent on the submitter's skill and intelligence. If an algorithmically-generated patent app manages to sneak its way into granted status, then there's reason for concern. The patent office is no longer riding the brakes, which obviously increases the chances of bad patents being granted. It's hard to imagine something like Kafka's "apparatus and device for staring into the void" making its way past any halfway alert examiner, but it at least it could make for some interesting reading.


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  1. identicon
    antymat, 27 May 2014 @ 11:21pm

    The Trial

    Just wondering, how this one would look like after transformation. My bet? Not that different...

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