Monday, March 20, 2006

A Growing Problem

Michael Crichton wrote a great article in the New York Times about the growing ridiculousness of American patent law.  This country is going to have to come to a serious reckoning very soon on the subject of Intellectual Property.  I may be annoyed by HBO threatening to sue me over shifting a few bits around the network, but there are things far worse.  My mother recently had her gall bladder removed.  But what if her doctor had not been able to tell her the result of the test to determine that because someone else held a patent on that diagnosis?

I do understand the need for patents.  It is entirely reasonable to protect an idea long enough for a company to produce a product and start making money.  However, when a company can file patents and put them in a drawer waiting to sue someone who actually figures out how to implement them ( NPT vs. Blackberry); Microsoft can patent "A method, comprising: selecting pixels to be used as an emoticon; assigning a character sequence to the pixels; and transmitting the character sequence to a destination to allow for reconstruction of the pixels at the destination" ( Smiley Face Patent); and, as mentioned in Crichton's article, a company can patent a link between elevated homocysteine levels and vitamin deficiency, something needs to be done.

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