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Wright Brothers vs. Glenn Curtiss 304

Posted by Hemos
from the battle-of-the-patents dept.
jvmatthe writes "Today's All Things Considered on NPR had a story about intellectual property and patents from America's history that could have been ripped from today's Slashdot headlines, yet it happened almost a century ago. It discussed how the Wright Brothers, considered the fathers of modern heaver-than-air-flight, had tried to lock up the skies after their patenting of the ideas used to build their airplanes. They had a long, bitter legal battle with Glenn H. Curtiss who also made airplanes; Curtiss is credited with being "the first to make a public flight in the United States, the first to sell a commercial airplane, the first to fly from one American city to another, and the first to receive a U.S. pilot license", among other things. Here's where it really gets interesting: the patent battles dragged on and apparently could have actually hindered the growth of the American airplane industry. It wasn't until World War I that people put aside their differences for the common good and the industry worked together in a spirit of free exchange of ideas! So, does is this a sign for how we might eventually get out of the patent mess we're in now? Some catastrophic event brings everyone together and the locking up of ideas with overly broad patents finally ends? For more reading, the NPR story focussed on Unlocking the Sky by Seth Shulman."
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Wright Brothers vs. Glenn Curtiss

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  • it's a sign (Score:3, Funny)

    by abe ferlman (205607) <bgtrio&yahoo,com> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @08:10AM (#4335130) Homepage Journal
    I think it's a sign that we need to go to war with a country with a more enlightened intellectual property policy.

    And lose.

  • fp (Score:0, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 26, 2002 @08:23AM (#4335200)
    I'm so so sorry. And now I've apologised, you have to mod me up.
  • by clausiam (609879) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @08:44AM (#4335343)
    [Tough Army Sgt]: Guys, let's move - the enemy is just ONE CLICK AWAY to the North. [Jeff Bezos ]: I heard that and I own any ONE CLICK process - I'm gonna sue your sorry asses for this patent infringement.
  • Exactly! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Evro (18923) <evandhoffman&gmail,com> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @08:53AM (#4335406) Homepage Journal
    So, does is this a sign for how we might eventually get out of the patent mess we're in now? Some catastrophic event brings everyone together and the locking up of ideas with overly broad patents finally ends?

    Yes, as World War III looms on the horizon, the world unites to stop the patent madness and give us the uberweapon we really need: One Click Shopping!
  • by chthon (580889) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @09:08AM (#4335525) Homepage Journal

    Funny that they helped the businessman. I thought that ties were to be used to help them out of their agony.

  • by HenryWirz (174386) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @09:52AM (#4335831) Homepage Journal
    The way I heard it Orville told the CAA to go take a flying leap through a donut hole when they offered him Pilot's License #000001

    Only NPR would be thrilled to learn of who was the first person regulated to do something.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @09:56AM (#4335863)

    I know how to do away with all of this patent nonsense from here on out.

    I'll make a machine that will approve or reject patents, and store them on microfilm. I'd like it to look like something Terry Gilliam would animate. A huge throw switch for accept/reject. An elephant on a treadmill for a source of power. Two rubber stamps, one for approved and one for rejected. A huge bellows to dry the ink. A massive series of lenses, mirrors and candles to reduce the image down to microfilm size.

    Then, I'll patent it. If it gets rejected, I'll keep changing components until it passes. Replace the bellows with a cage of pigeons and a box of popcorn and resubmit.

    Once I get my shiny new patent, I'll wait one week. Then I'll tack on the words "with a computer" and resubmit. We all know that the magic phrase "with a computer" makes a new patent. Ask Jeff Bezos - he'll tell ya.

    Now - it'll be illegal to use a computer to store or approve patents. It's my idea now. The entire process will have to be done by hand. If you want a patent search...well the patents number around the 4,700,000 range. If it takes a minute to read a patent, then it'll take about 20 man years to prove it's original. By then it won't matter.

    And just in case the government gets any funny ideas about "prior art" - well we know those lawsuits aren't ever won. Look at Wizards of the Coast. They managed to patent card games for chrissakes. Even though prior art of all kinds exists *cough cough* Steve Jackson *cough*.

    But, I'm a reasonable guy. If they press their case strongly enough I'd be willing to settle out of court. Just pay me a nickel royalty for every patent in your database and I'll be okay with that.

    Weaselmancer

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 26, 2002 @11:44AM (#4336763)
    Life will find a way! Jeff Goldblum.

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken

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