Bill Conant" />
side bar
Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Get Technical: Patent process hamstrung

We are halfway through 2008, and still have no flying cars or personal jet packs. Duke Nukem Forever still hasn’t been released and I want a car that gets 100 miles per gallon. Come on, science, get with it! This is the future!

Seriously now – there haven’t been any huge breakthroughs or crazy accomplishments since the mid-1990s when someone at Intel figured out how to reliably miniaturize the fabrication process for computer processors, allowing them to pack even more transistors on the chip. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the two biggies are as follows: corporate greed and governmental regulation.

Now, before you dismiss this article as conspiracy theory, consider this: there is absolutely no incentive for established corporations to invest in jet packs, flying 100-MPG cars, or any other item like that. There is no profit to be found, and it frees people from their dependencies on the corporations involved, so why bother?

The huge conglomerates are happy with the status quo, which is why text messages are four times more expensive to send than an equivalent amount of data from the Hubble Space Telescope even though the continually dropping cost of bandwidth is at its lowest point ever. Phone companies should just round it off to free and include them as a basic service, not a 20-cent-per-use premium, counting each text message received separately from each one sent.

Similarly, because our government isn’t flexible enough to keep up with the times, we are stuck with ideas and prototypes sitting on the workbench that are perfectly viable but not regulated, and therefore not available for purchase. Usually these ideas are from single inventors who have worked on the problem for many years, exhausting their resources and thus being forced to keep their products off the market.

Furthermore, our patent system is a joke. There is a preponderance of absurd patents floating around, mostly as a result of patent-holding companies who see something already in widespread use and patent it, ignoring the requirement for a lack of prior art. The prior art clauses in patent law ensure that the invention wasn’t just copied from an older patent or idea and are designed to spur inventive thinking.

For example, attempted to patent the act of right-clicking a mouse. That has been a computing basic since the dawn of mice in the 1960s. It’s not particularly foreign to users and there’s no reason to think someone with sufficient thought could come up with the idea. Basically, it’s a bad patent.

So next time you want to teleport to school, play on your hovering skateboard or put a force field around your car to keep shopping carts at bay, blame the patent system and profit-obsessed corporations, because there’s someone working on that invention.

After all this is a new millennium. Why should anyone get along to further the human experiment?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑
  • Sign up for our Email Edition

  • Polls

    What about UH will you miss the least this summer?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...