Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Patent Case SCOTUS

There is a patent case before the US Supreme Court regarding some B-vitamin deficiency test. Opponents have claimed the patent is written so broadly it basically refers to a natural body function.

For many years, the ability to own your ideas through a patent has provided incentive for everyone from garage inventors to big companies to innovate.

But the US patent system has become dysfunctional as technology and lawyers have left the USPTO in the figurative dust, dazed and confused, searching for a way out of the mess.

Perhaps no case better illustrates it than Smucker's trying to sue people for selling crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as discussed in this IEEE Spectrum article, an article which actually offers a possible solution to the mess.

The basic question is how do you protect Intellectual Property when it has become so hard to determine what is and what isn't patentable?

Right now the question is in the hands of 8 men and one woman, none of whom I believe (correct me if I am wrong) are patent holders, inventors, or even former patent attorneys, yet their ruling will decide the future of many US companies and independent.

Let us hope that their ruling or lack of one helps preserve the innovative spirit that has made America great, but also frees creative people from the parasitic nature of patent law today.


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