Archive for June, 2014

Who needs a patent office anyway?

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Patents are taking a pounding on the editorial pages of the country’s great newspapers.

And not just there. In the Supreme Court and Congress, this popular political whipping boy is being flogged without mercy. A hard-to-parse slice of corporate America seems to be pitching in, too. They’re all doing their part to safeguard civilization from the scourge of patents.

Face it. Patents are on the ropes. To hear some critics tell it, we ought to outfit the patent system with concrete boots and push it straight off the 14th Street Bridge into the icy Potomac. You can hear these wet-blanket detractors mumbling under their breath: “Patents? Hah! Stupid idea. Jefferson must have been stone drunk on corn mash hooch when he concocted that one. Patents? Baloney.”

What’s more, this round-robin choreographed public flogging promises to succeed.

And one morning soon, don’t be surprised if big-brain innovators and well-healed investors all over America find themselves peering into their bathroom mirrors while shaving or blow drying and subconsciously blurting out to their significant others still half asleep in bed—“Jamie, do you remember the quaint old patent office that I was telling you about? You know, the one with the eighteen bazillion employees that filled that big office campus in Alexandria. To the rafters. Yeah, the one that sported the best work-out facility in the free world? Y’know, I haven’t heard anything about the patent office lately. I think it went out of business. A shame, really. What do you suppose happened?”

“Huh? Could you stop blathering. I’m trying to sleep.”

And, count on this–on the same morning, at the arrivals curbs at National and Dulles and BWI, lawyers in their elegant suits and pointy shoes (with the punch-hole patterns on the toes) will be getting into black, gas-guzzling, eco-hostile car-service SUVs and leaning over the front seat backs to instruct their drivers: “Take me to the patent office.” And hearing back from the front seat—“The what office?”

Then patent bashers will dance in the streets, elated by this perfect end game. Simple. No patent office, no patents. An elegant and final solution.

Untutored observers will be non-plussed; for them, the demise of the patent office will be a head-scratching puzzle. They will see the event for what it is, a great tragedy for the American economy and technology development.

But patent cognoscenti will hardly be surprised, for they will have seen the one-column-inch ad tucked at the bottom of page 27 of the big city paper three days earlier (underneath the “Dog itches self to death” ad for Flora’s flea powder)—“Patent office closes for lack of interest. Patent shoes being sold as surplus. Call Phil’s Auction House. 571-272-8888. Leave a message.”

My advice? Don’t bother.


Written by thinker

June 7th, 2014 at 8:55 pm