January 30, 2003

I'll tell you where you can put those patents (to good use)

- by Tina Gasperson -
In these tough economic times, it pays to keep a finger in the air in case wind
of a great new money-making idea comes along. Thanks, SBC! No more missed mortgage payments for me!When the SBC patent flap first reared its head, it sounded like they were trying
to enforce a 1999 patent on frames. Of course, we know now it is "frame-like" code
they're going after. I've read as much of the actual patent as I can stomach, and
it sounds to me like their claims could probably include frames. I don't
really know, because IANAL and all that.

I was thinking, though, about the gall of some company coming along and
attempting to claim ownership on roughly 50% of the Internet. Damn lawyers are seeing
dollar signs again. Yet, SBC was granted a patent by the US government.
So they're fair and square. Why try to keep money out of SBC's pocket?

We should really blame the government for not doing
its prior art homework, number one, and number two, isn't a patent supposed to
encourage innovation by protecting a new and useful invention?

But then I was thinking some more, about frames. MuseumTour.com, the site SBC
went

after presumably as a test case, doesn't use frames. It's a combination of
tables and javascript, and a different URL is displayed each time you click you
click on a tab, although the tabs and everything above them do not appear to
change. This does not suck.

In fact, this is a fine replacement for those
irritating frames that are hard to bookmark and print and code correctly, so it
seems, judging by the number of times I've been stuck in some Alice in
Wonderland-like tunnel just trying to navigate the silly things. Actual

old-fashioned

frames
really do suck. So I wonder if SBC is going to go after any of those?

And I was thinking about that, and about how there appears to be some kind of new, unwritten definition about what a patent is and what it is supposed to do, and how stupid the government
is. And I came up with an idea that is quite entrepreneurial and beneficial to
humanity at the same time. What we have to do, see, is make a list of all the
Internet things

that suck, like this:

frames
animated gifs
the unsolicited use of flash or shockwave, i.e. "splash pages"
the unsolicited use of audio
the unsolicited use of java applets
anything that scrolls from left to right or right to left
DHTML (example site doesn't work with Linux)
spam

(There's more, lots more.)

Then, we write a business plan, get some funding, and hire a couple of lawyers
to

create and file

patent

applications. Run

them by the non-Mensans at the USPTO, pay the fee and, well, there you
go. Insta-patents! Insta-money!

Next, start identifying targets to enforce the patents on. Shouldn't be a
problem, as long as we get enough VC to hire David Boies. Figuring out how to invest all the cash we make on our bountiful intellectual
property should be a more difficult, yet delightful, task.

The ultimate
payoff to society is the eventual
eradication of all the things on the Internet that suck. (No smart ass
comments neccessary, thank you.) And don't talk

to

me

about

prior art. The existence of that doesn't seem to prevent the willy-nilly granting of
patents by Rogan and the rest.

Click Here!