Friday, November 04, 2005


Oh for God's sake (linkage courtesy of Holly Lisle and Pam Templin.)


  1. I'll have to remind myself not to buy it if it ever manages to see the light of day... Right now I'm still not quite awake enough to wrap my head around it. Eesh.

  2. Anonymous10:02 AM

    So do you think he'll squeek it by the patent office? If he does, will this mean if someone wants to write about Zombies they'll have to fork over cash to this guy in order to do so? Or even if they want to write about stares, High Schools, anticipation, college, college admissions, prayers, night, unconsciousness, MIT, letters, sleep, mail, life, years and memory, they'll have to do the same? It's all in his proposal. So it would all be patented. Is that right?
    I begin to understand better why an idea cannot be patented. If this guy wins, authors are going to be in big, big, trouble. I can imagine what would have happened had Bram Stoker been able to patent Dracula/Vampires. No P.N. Elrod. No Mary Ann Mitchell. No Laurell K. Hamilton. No Jim Butcher. No Anne Rice. No Tanya Huff. No Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.
    How sad would that be?

  3. It's mildly scary. I think, however, that it will probably be found to be unenforcable. I seem to recall that patents are pretty specific: patent infringement doesn't occur if an invention does the same thing as your invention, but does it another way. I believe that, should a case like this ever come to trial, the court would probably interpret 'similiarity' very narrowly.

    They'd have to, wouldn't they? Otherwise I could patent something like 'There's protagonist, and through conflict he changes and overcomes adversity to win in the end. And he gets the girl.' which would mean I've got a lock on 50% of the books sold. (I'd submit another patent with a female protag and lock up the other 50%)

  4. I wish someone would patent the story idea involving a human couple stranded on some distant uninhabited planet. You know the one - in the last sentence the author reveals that the male is called Adam and ...

  5. Anonymous10:34 AM

    He has a website...

    I hope this all falls apart for him.

  6. By the way - I'd like to point out that computer programmers have been fighting the patenting of basic ideas for ages. That fight has already been lost in the US, and the European parliament has been trying to push through similar legislation there. (The most recent attempt was when they stuck it onto an agriculture and fisheries agenda and tried to get it adopted without a vote.)
    The good news is that writers are a bigger and louder bunch so patenting story ideas has zero chance of getting anywhere.

  7. Anonymous1:21 PM

    He can have it.

  8. Anonymous1:37 PM

    I thought it was nuts when Amazon managed to patent "one click ordering," which simply meant -- one click ordering.

    I don't understand how some of this stuff slips through. I guess it keeps the lawyers employed.

  9. I can imagine what would have happened had Bram Stoker been able to patent Dracula/Vampires. No P.N. Elrod. No Mary Ann Mitchell. No Laurell K. Hamilton. No Jim Butcher. No Anne Rice. No Tanya Huff. No Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

    No Joss Whedon!

    Well, vampires have a history longer than Bram Stoker, as do zombies, so even if the patent passes, they will still be free. Anyway, copyright and trademark laws are enough to control ownership of creatures you make up, not that that's stopped anyone from stealing them anyway (like the Tolkien rip-offs). This patenting thing reminds me of Entrepreneur magazine's trademark of the word "entrepreneur" and subsequent suing of any magazine with the word "entrepreneur" in the title. Forbes Magazine: “What's next, copyrighting the alphabet? Patenting sex?”

  10. Anonymous4:24 PM

    This is something that worries me, actually. Some of the software patents are pretty sweeping, and cover the functionality - despite the fact that basic algorithms are supposed to be unpatentable.

    We could see a rash of abusive patents if one of these storyline patents is allowed to stand.

  11. I can't believe anybody actually took him seriously. Only in America...

  12. Anonymous5:02 PM

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! This dork isn't getting a dime.

    "Before a patent will issue, however, the application must overcome the hurdles of utility, novelty, and nonobviousness found in U.S. patent laws...{snip}... Non-obviousness probably presents the biggest challenge to patentability"

    Yeah, and in this case, so does novelty. That means, he can't patent any storly line that's been written before. That means, his stories have to be at least as unique as anyone else's. This isn't much different than a copyright because there are so many DIFFERNT ways to tell the same story that they are all novel and unique.

    I'm not worried.

  13. Anonymous6:50 PM

    Indecisive said...
    No Joss Whedon!

    Mary says...
    How did I ever forget Joss?! No excuses. Angel and Spike must come over and show me the error of my ways. :-}

  14. I'll send them your way Mary. lol... they've been hanging at my house for a while.. :)

  15. This is beyond scary. I'm trying to think happy thoughts, but too many weird things have passed in recent years. It wouldn't surprise me if the bad karma king succeeded.

  16. Is it just me, or does the story idea sound incredibly dull?

    On a more serious note, look to the patenting of genes. Apparently one in five of all known human genes have been patented. I still don't understand how you can patent a gene. Patent a therapy based on a knowledge of a gene, sure. But a gene?

  17. Anonymous4:59 PM

    Is it just me, or does his story line sound a lot like 13 Going on 30 with Jennifer Garner?

  18. Anonymous7:50 AM

    Anonymous is right; his patent, if granted, would cover that film. Unfortunately it was published after he filed for the patent, so probably can't be used as evidence of non-novelty.

    The patent wouldn't be so much on plot as on the situation the character finds themselves in, in this case waking up after making a wish to sleep for some period to find that they'd lived a life they don't remember at all in the meantime. I'm sure there are lots of stories that fit that description and which are older than the patent application (filed in 2003), but I don't know any of them.

    Basically, in order to get through the novelty requirement, a patent's description will have to be precise enough that there is no prior story the patent examiner knows of that matches the description. If details of such a story can be brought up in court later, then the patenter would be unlikely to win a case against somebody publishing such a story later... if any publisher were willing to take the chance of legal action against them. Which I suspect they won't be.

    So this'll get nowhere for the patenter, 'cause everyone will just avoid the patented stories, and just make life a hassle for writers, who will need to perform a patent search before they start writing a story to be sure they aren't going to end up with something unpublishable.

    This definitely fits the definition of "stupid behaviour". Nobody wins. Except the lawyers.

  19. ... Christ on a crutch.

    I can't see any way this could possibly be granted.

    But if it is, I'm going to be beating my head against something hard for a very long time...


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