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USPTO Issues Provisional Storyline Patent 453

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the thought-of-that-first dept.
cheesedog writes "The USPTO will issue the first storyline patent in history today, with two others following in the next few months. Right to Create points out that this was anticipated several months ago in a story by Richard Stallman published in the The Guardian, UK. With the publication of this not-yet-granted patent, its author can begin requiring licensing fees for anyone whose activities might fall within its claims, including book authors, movie studies, television studios and broadcasters, etc. The claims appear to cover the literary elements of a story involving an ambitious high school student who applies for entrance to MIT and prays to remain sleeping until the acceptance letter comes, which doesn't happen for another 30 years."
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USPTO Issues Provisional Storyline Patent

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  • Publish, not issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aneurysm9 (723000) on Friday November 04, 2005 @12:34AM (#13947774)
    Get it right. Even the article does. These are patent applications that are being published because of a recent statutory change requiring publication of all patent applications 18 months after filing. This has nothing to do with whether or not letters patent will be granted.
  • by imthesponge (621107) on Friday November 04, 2005 @12:34AM (#13947776)
    U.S. Patent Office Publishes the First Patent Application to Claim a Fictional Storyline; Inventor Asserts Provisional Rights Against Hollywood

    ...

    Will Knights claimed storyline pass the rigors of nonobviousness and issue as a U.S. Patent? ...

  • Reductio ad Absurdum (Score:5, Informative)

    by ewhac (5844) on Friday November 04, 2005 @12:35AM (#13947786) Homepage Journal
    ...And here are the assholes [plotpatents.com] who have been doing the legal legwork to make this possible. Here is their argument in law [plotpatents.com], which draws heavily on the flawed, idiotic precedents established with software patents.

    The system is now officially broken, and anyone who takes the USPTO seriously after today is part of the problem.

    Schwab

  • by Dark Coder (66759) on Friday November 04, 2005 @12:48AM (#13947858)
    Check out the most frivolous and most obvious patents, such as

    1. 'how to swing on a swing set' [freepatentsonline.com],
    2. Stamp moistener (with your tongue!!!) [freepatentsonline.com],
    3. Towel with a neck loop [freepatentsonline.com],
    4. Light bulb changer, weighing over 100 lbs. [freepatentsonline.com],
    5. 6 duplicative patents on 'cat toys on a string attached to a stick'1 [freepatentsonline.com],2 [freepatentsonline.com],3 [freepatentsonline.com],4 [freepatentsonline.com],5 [freepatentsonline.com],6 [freepatentsonline.com],


    Many of the not so credible patents have inate and self-evident common senses that have been documented by Greek/Roman historians in B.C. times!

    This is not what us commoner had envision for our ideal patent system. Oh boy, Adam Smith must be hotly spinning in his grave!

    --
    Disclaimer - I, too, am a pending patent holder.
  • by Sebby (238625) on Friday November 04, 2005 @01:06AM (#13947948)
  • Re:Copy (Score:5, Informative)

    by craXORjack (726120) on Friday November 04, 2005 @01:28AM (#13948043)
    So if I were to photocopy a page out of a textbook and give it to students would I be a) infringing the patent b) violating copyright c) both?

    A textbook wouldn't have a storyline so the answer could not be (a) or (c). However, whether you are violating (b) depends on whether the page you photocopied was from a textbook printed on paper or an electronic book which displays text encoded digitally. In the first case, the old and established Fair Use Act covers this and no violation has occured. In the second case, the DMCA comes into play and you would be subject to penalties on par with those for second degree murder.

  • by psiber (722466) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @01:29AM (#13948050)

    WTF? The "About Us" section of Knight's website states:

    "Recognizing that fierce competition for publication and financial reward focused on the quality of storytelling, as opposed to the quality of the underlying storyline itself, and further recognizing that even the world's most skilled storytellers (of which he is clearly not) rarely turn a profit, his unique fictional storylines have matured into pending patent applications instead of novels or screenplays. He thus seeks reward on the true value of his innovations--the underlying storylines--instead of forced, sub-par expressions of these underlying storylines." (http://www.plotpatents.com/about_us.htm [plotpatents.com])

    Basically, he wants to get paid for coming up with a story idea and not the work of turning the idea into an actual GOOD story because he is not a skilled storyteller. Here's an idea for you: (1 come up with a good story idea (2 find a skilled storyteller and (3 contract them to write the story (with both names appearing on the work maybe? or not in which case this is just hiring a ghost writer). Oh yeah, he'd have to actually DO THE WORK of looking for a skilled storyteller he is able to work with. How about this one then: (1 come up with a good story idea (2 write a BAD story (3 what for someone to copy it and (4 sue them under copyright law. Oh yeah, the duplicate story would have to be VERY similar to the original to be considered for copyright infringement and would most likely be just as bad as the original and not sell either, so he still would not get paid. I can see why so many foreigners see us Americans as lazy...

    Besides, the idea behind the patent system is you can patent your idea, PRODUCE your idea (which Knight apparently IS NOT GOING TO DO with his story ideas), and try to make money from it without having to worry about a bigger competitor copying your idea and profiting from your creativity... Oh yeah, the patent system is still broken... never mind...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04, 2005 @01:51AM (#13948140)
    Nope. You're wrong. There's no such thing as a provisional patent. What's been filed is a provisional application. To actually get a patent, a person has to follow up with a utility application. All the provisional application means is that if the patent were granted, it would get the benefit of the earlier filing date.

    If the patent were somehow granted (which I doubt it would be) its term would begin with the date of filing the utility application, not the date of the provisional.

    I'm not so sure about the "shakedown" part of the process yet, since I have yet to take a patent litigation class. I would be surprised if a lawsuit would get very far without an actual patent.
  • Re:Reality TV (Score:3, Informative)

    by julesh (229690) on Friday November 04, 2005 @06:45AM (#13948858)
    Hopefully someone will patent reality TV shows. I am rather sick of those.

    Uri Geller has already patented one of those. [uspto.gov]

    Sorry, it didn't really help.
  • by julesh (229690) on Friday November 04, 2005 @06:51AM (#13948876)
    (Just posted this on another site, but it should be here as well:)

    And here [uspto.gov]'s the patent application:

    The relevant parts:

    I claim:

    1. A process of relaying a story having a timeline and a unique plot involving characters, comprising: indicating a character's desire at a first time in said timeline for at least one of the following: a) to remain asleep or unconscious until a particular event occurs; and b) to forget or be substantially unable to recall substantially all events during the time period from said first time until a particular event occurs; indicating said character's substantial inability at a time after said occurrence of said particular event to recall substantially all events during the time period from said first time to said occurrence of said particular event; and indicating that during said time period said character was an active participant in a plurality of events.


    OK, so this claim covers all stories which involve characters that wish to sleep until something happens, apparently achieving this wish, and then discovering that they were awake but don't remember everything that happened in the meantime.

    Typical practice in patent applications is to put something very broad in the first claim in the hopes that it will be granted, but not to actually expect it to be enforceable because the chances are somebody has done something similar before. (If anybody can name stories that follow this structure, published before Nov 28, 2003, now is the time to tell the USPTO about it).

    2. A process of relaying a story as in claim 1, comprising: indicating that said particular event has occurred at a second time in said timeline at least one week after said first time; and indicating said character's substantial inability at a time after said second time to recall substantially all events during the time period from said first time to said second time.

    Claim 2 is the same story where the event waited for takes at least a week to occur, and everything that happened is forgotten about.

    3. A process of relaying a story as in claim 2, wherein said second time is at least one year after said first time.

    The same, except a year or more elapses.

    4. A process of relaying a story as in claim 1, wherein said particular event is at least one of: a passing of a particular amount of time; a notification of a decision; and a relief of a pain.

    5. A process of relaying a story as in claim 1, wherein said plurality of events comprises at least one of said character's wedding, a birth of a child of said character, and performance of said character's occupation for a substantial portion of said time period.


    Things a character might wait for and things that might happen during the wait.

    6. A process of relaying a story as in claim 1, further comprising indicating a belief held by at least three other characters that said character was conscious during said active participation in said plurality of events.

    Something that's likely to happen after the character 'wakes up'.

    7. A process of relaying a story as in claim 1, wherein each of said steps of indicating comprises indicating in a written form.

    8. A process of relaying a story as in claim 1, wherein each of said steps of indicating comprises indicating in a video form.


    Books, TV series and films are covered.

    9. A process of relaying a story as in claim 8, wherein said process is a process of displaying a motion picture having a timeline and a unique plot, comprising: displaying a video representation of an actor acting as said character; displaying a video representation of said actor indicating at said first time in said timeline a desire for said at l

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