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PTO Requests Working Model of Warp Drive 277

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'm-patenting-all-i-got-captain dept.
aborchers writes "According to Patently-O: Patent Law Blog, the PTO has requested a working model of a Warp Drive for which a patent was recently applied. From the article, "Among other rejections, the Examiner has asserted a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101 for lack of utility -- finding that the invention is inoperable." At least one examiner is paying attention!"
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PTO Requests Working Model of Warp Drive

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  • Too bad... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig DOT hogger AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:35AM (#14754646) Journal
    Too bad they didn't also answer a working model for many software that's patented, as well as some business methods, such as the RIAA's...
  • by argoff (142580) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @11:40AM (#14754667)
    .... that way we won't get harrassed with frivolous lawsuits when it becomes a reality 20 years + down the road.

    Essay: A Violent Protest Against Patents [slashdot.org]
  • Re:Too bad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:00PM (#14754761)
    Working models are required when the Examiner simply cannot believe such an invention would work. They're typically requested of the flood of time machines, warp drives, teleportation devices, and other such knick-knacks and paddy-whacks the USPTO receives applications for.

    As far as your typical Slashdrone comment regarding software, however, there's a fairly low burden of showing something will work in software just because there is so much flexibility when writing code. The same is even more true with regards to a hardware implementation of something that could be done in software.

    However, since you've been modded insightful, I have to ask -- why? If it's something that you honestly don't believe could be implemented in software, then a) you're obviously too stupid a coder to accidentally run into the problem of practicing the patented invention; and b) if the inventor can actually code the thing, you'd be suggesting that it would therefore be useful and non-obvious just because you're too stupid to figure out how the patent system works.

    Here's a hint, Slashdot ... most of the examiners in the electrical arts know more about electronics than you guys. And they DEFINITELY understand the patent system better than idiots like parent.
  • Dumb question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bombula (670389) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:02PM (#14754772)
    Here's a dumb question from a non-lawyer: how long do patents last? Forever? I ask because if a patent only lasts 15 or 50 or 100 years or whatever, what sense does it make to patent something - even if it's essentially just an idea - if your protection is likely to expire before you take anything to market?
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:09PM (#14754795)
    Well, it's nice to see that at least someone applied some brain before passing a patent. Unfortunately, it's not always so easy.

    My guess is that normally, the patent clercs simply shake their heads, say "don't understand it, but since they wanna patent it, it's prolly working" and pass it. In this case, though, at least "warp drives" are so well known to be science fiction and far from a working model, that it rang someone's alarm bell.

    I wonder, though, if a quantum singularty drive would have been shot down as well. It's not really common knowledge anymore that those don't work (yet) either. Worse yet, they won't be used in Federation starships.

    I really sometimes wonder what kind of approval course a patent has to go before becoming patent. Does anyone who has a clue take a look at all?
  • Re:Too bad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:12PM (#14754813) Homepage Journal
    Just what I was thinking -- I'd really like to see the PTO require working models of all "inventions" submitted for patent, and while I'm as pleased to see this frivolous application rejected as I would be any other, I can't help be a bit bothered by the double standard involved. "Silly, unworkable, sci-fi-inspired idea probably filed as a joke? Forget it, pal. Silly, unworkable, b-school-inspired idea layered in suit-speak? No problem!"
  • by the_wesman (106427) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:28PM (#14754875) Homepage
    hi - at my company, we hold a lot of patents. In fact, there's a program in which people at the company can submit patent ideas and our legal department checks them out and sees if they exist/are viable/etc. I submitted one last year (that already existed - damn) and while speaking with one of the lawyers he mentioned, quite empatically, that whatever is being patented does not actually have to exist. According to him, you can patent a process or software or hardware that has no working proof of concept. I think the idea of submitting a patent on something that can never exist is pretty lame, but on the other hand, I don't think that people should be allowed to call dibs on patents just so they can wait for somebody else to do the work and then sue them. It's tough to find a same medium. how close is too close (or too far) from the realization of an idea for it to be patented?
  • Patents on "ideas" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cyberlotnet (182742) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:40PM (#14754916) Homepage Journal
    I have no problem with people getting a patent on an "idea" or software concept as long as the person can

    1. Show no prior art
    2. Has intent to use said patent.

    Patents are meant to protect a inventory from LOSS due to stealing of a persons idea. They where never meant as a profit center.

    I should not be able to think up and idea and then just sit on it until someone else decideds to try and use it.. Wait even longer then sue them for using it once they are worth money.
  • Re:Too bad... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LinuxHam (52232) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @01:20PM (#14755071) Homepage Journal
    I'd really like to see the PTO require working models of all "inventions" submitted for patent

    I respectfully disagree. I submit patent applications as an IBM employee, and while I don't have the resources to ever bring my ideas to market, IBM can certainly bring to bear just about anything I submit that they deem worthy. But why would they ever tool a manufacturing line and build a working demo of every invention *before* having a patent covering the idea? I started to develop a residential answering machine that allows a family to setup individual profiles with independent mailboxes, greetings, and email addresses to forward messages as attachments. I did my due dilligence and found too many related patents and applications out there. Even if someone hasn't developed a working demo yet, I can respect that they claimed the idea as their own. Why can't you? And why don't you feel that "Joe Inventor" who works in his garage for 20 years trying to find the next big thing should be allowed to make money by documenting cutting edge ideas just because he can't afford to fab circuits, develop code and burn EEPROMS?

    Kicking it up a notch, how about IBM implementing a new chip design? We can simulate complete chip designs entirely in software. Why should they spend a billion dollars to fab the first version of the chip just so they can ship it to Washington so a patent clerk can validate its worthiness? I feel this position was borne from the fact that a tiny fraction of the folks we meet and work with in our daily lives are actually backed by an organization that may at one point actually do something with our ideas. You certainly don't mind demanding that those of us who *can* spend millions of dollars in development actually *do* spend that kind of money. Obviously, software patents are a different story, but you didn't say "all software inventions". You want every patent application accompanied by a working model.
  • Re:Too bad... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pluggo (98988) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @01:28PM (#14755110) Homepage
    Eh... didn't Einstein work at the patent office?
  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:03PM (#14755257)
    Just grant him the patent. Then, if there's anything real there, the patent will have expired by the time anyone has to worry about it.
  • Re:Dumb question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashname3 (739398) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:25PM (#14755357)
    Not so dumb. Personally I have been hoping that they finish patenting everything in the next few years. Then in about 50 to 100 years they will look back on this period of time as a second dark age, where the patent laws were used to squelch advances and prevent deployment of many useful inventions. But once they have patented everything they will run out and all those ideas will be released to people that can actually use them to deploy real products and make the advances that will improve things for every one.

The world is not octal despite DEC.

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