Patently stupid...but here it is nonetheless

Dear Miss Snark,

I've noticed this several times, so I thought I'd bring it up. A lot of
people in the comments seems to think that you can't have a plot as your
intellectual property -- only a specific work. This is not the case.
Storylines can be patented:

What does the great arbiter of all that is snarky think about such a
development? Honestly, after seing what software patents have done to the
computer world (like how Amazon patented "One Click Shopping" then started
suing their competitors to make them deliberately complicate their checkout
processes), this scares the heck out of me.

You'll notice it says 'application' for a patent.
Like lawsuits, anyone can file anything.
We'll see how it goes.

I myself am applying for a patent on the letter "I".

KY of course already holds a patent ... leather shoe of course.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Miss Snark. You went there.

andrea said...

Did everyone read the storyline of "The Zombie Stare"? It sounds...well, not like something I'd be trying to steal. Zombies are one thing, but the storyline hinges on the idea that a letter lost for thirty years would actually get delivered! Heh heh.

kitty said...

I'm changing my name to Sterling Silver and then claiming all of the silverware as mine. Of course it's mine, officer. See, my name is engraved on every piece!

Alphabeter said...

I'm going to apply for the trademarks:
Nitwit of the Web
Metrosexual Tam Wearing Pooch
Stiletto Rage
Leonardo's Cipher
Aliens from Rabbitannia

I smell a fortune!

BuffySquirrel said...

Life is stranger than fiction...

Anonymous said...

My wife and I applied for a trademark on the middle finger. We'll see.

--Danny Adams

Kalen Hughes said...

Andrew Knight is either an outright moron, or culturally illiterate (which amounts to the same thing in my book). Essentially he's trying to patent this story line: guy makes a wish then regrets it when it doesn't turn out the way he thought it would.

Anyone seen that before?

It fails the non-obviousness requirement. What’s he going to do, sue the Twilight Zone retroactively?

Worst case scenario is no one can ever write the novel or make this movie. Don’t forget that this guy is NOT A WRITER. He has no intention of creating an actual work of fiction. What he wants is a patent saying no one else can write a story about a “philosophical zombie” protagonist who regrets his wish to become said “zombie”.

And won’t the world be a better place for that?

The Beautiful Schoolmarm said...

I think the world will go on spinning quite nicely without philisophical zombies, in fiction or real life. Now I'm going to fall to floor and start laughing at the notion.

rachel said...

Dude, this case is WHY we've been mentioning that nitwits should patent their stories! The comments aren't funny without that background!

Personally, I can't wait for him to get the patent on that story, because I hold the patent on "protagonists". Does your story have one? Well, you owe me money.

kathie said...

Jesus, I can't make it through two sentences of that document...The soap world will be finito if this story line business takes hold. Can't happen. I'm going with that.

Bernita said...

I hope they tell him to Faust off and die.

Elektra said...

Kalen, have you ever read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? The Hitchhiker's Guide editor plaigarizes from the back of a ceral box, and then sends the Guide back in time so that he can sue the cereal company for plaigarism.

Stacy said...

I quake in terror at the possibility that this application (heretofore referred to as 'The Application') may be considered a reasonable request by the powers that be (heretofore referred to as 'The Powers That Be'). Stranger things have happened (heretofore referred to as 'happened').

To sum up: 'The Application' is found to have merit, the patent is granted by 'The Powers that Be', and then everybody who ever had an idea or even a wierd dream decides to patent his idea. Soon, the only writing being done uses variations of fairy tales and folk tales because they predate The Application'.
Would Art suffer? Would everything be stale and tasteless?

The answer is a resounding no, because EVERY STORY HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN. Change names, faces, places and other details, we are all still reading the same 11 stories.

I know what I'm talking about, I have a Masters in Literature.

C.E. Petit said...

Back when Mr Knight first announced his application, I sort of trashed his application. He then wrote back, accusing me of misunderstanding patent law… without actually providing any refutation of what's in that article.

Anonymous said...

I followed the cybertrail to wirenews and saw that it is past application stage. Knight made the application 18 months ago and now the Patent Office is publishing it (I suppose this means it will be reviewed by whoever for merit). So, it scarily passed the first round, so to speak.

Wirenews wrote--"The publication will be based on a utility patent application...". I then went to the US patent office web site and looked up just what constitutes a utility patent. The web site at [ http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/utility/utility.htm ] (the end of the address got truncated, so the bit that follow pac is /utility/utility.htm ) goes into great detail as to what comprises a utility patent, what forms you need, etc. But in all cases regarding the utility patent, the word invention is used.

I'm at a loss to explain just how "Zombie Stare" is an invention of any kind.

from the US Patent Office web page:

Brief Summary of the Invention
Brief Summary of the Invention
This section should present the substance or general idea of the claimed invention in summarized form. The summary may point out the advantages of the invention and how it solves previously existing problems, preferably those problems identified in the BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION. A statement of the object of the invention may also be included.

How did Knight describe this so it passed the first bar and made it to publication?

I guess that's why he's a rocket scientist and I'm not.


Mark said...

This essay breaks the law

Mac said...

Mr Knight has a business where he patents your story if you pay him enough money.

One of the vital skills of a patent attorney is locating relevant prior art.

One bizarre point his webpage, though, is that he claims that the plot for 'The Village' was a prime example of something that is patentable.

Why? Because apparently the basic setup had never been used before.

Right ...

Is this guy truly so incompetent at finding prior art that he is incapable of spending 30 seconds googling, to find plenty of examples - like the children's novel "Running out of Time" ???




bonniers said...

I'm not a lawyer, but spouse has been granted several patents for computer programs he designed. So I have some familiarity with the patent process.

Patent law considers processes as well as actual devices to to be forms of invention. Software algorithms are considered processes and are therefore patentable. The person who designs the process gets the patent, not the people who implement it.

Knight's application assumes that plot is to novel as algorithm is to computer program, and therefore plot is patentable.

The Patent Office is understaffed and backlogged, and has been for years. In some cases, first-stage reviews took years. This was hurting industries that rely on innovation, so they got Congress to change the law. It now specifies that if an application hasn't been rejected within 18 months, it automatically gets published and moves to the next stage.

In other words, the law presumes acceptance for publication.

Spouse has reaped considerable benefit from this ruling, since his company gives nice bonuses at several stages of approval. This guy's going to benefit the same way, because his patent can advance in the application process without ever having a review.

Anonymous said...

So, maybe we should all write to our Representatives and Senators to question this patent application. It would be horrific if it gets passed by default.