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A Brief History of Patenting the Wheel: What Goes Around Comes Around 36

v3rgEz writes Marc Abrahams, founder of the Ig Nobel Prize, has put together a fascinating history of people patenting the wheel, including one inventor that did it to prove how ridiculous Australia's patent system was and another that put wheels on a wheel so it could wheel while it wheels. From the article: "I discovered today that the Australian patent office has — quietly — revoked the patent it granted, in the year 2001, for the wheel. The patent office had awarded Innovation Patent #2001100012 to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia. Keogh’s application called his invention a “circular transportation facilitation device.” I became acquainted with Mr. Keogh when we awarded him — and the Australian Patent Office — an Ig Nobel Prize, in 2001."
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A Brief History of Patenting the Wheel: What Goes Around Comes Around

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  • Re:Solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @08:21PM (#47420951)

    Clearly, we currently have too many competent patent examiners. We should do everything possible to get them to quit.

    I'm not so sure too few patent examiners is the only problem. According to a patents documentary I watched recently one of the big problems is a piece of legislation passed in the USA during the 80s or 90s in a panic over patent rates in Asia outstripping those in the USA. It caused the number of patents in the USA to rise sharply but it also allowed people to patent ridiculous crap because the patent office was now totally overworked and the restrictions on what could be patented had been relaxed. The Danes have a saying "He just tried to patent hot water" which is equivalent to the English proverb "He's not the sharpest knife in the kitchen", i.e. "he's stupid". The unfortunate thing is that these days you'd actually stand a good chance of patenting hot water if you tried, especially in the US where the rules are very lax. Come to think of it I'd actually like to see somebody try to patent hot water, just to see if they succeed. That being said I'm not generally against patents, I just think the system need major reform. This same documentary I cited above also included an interesting interview with James Dyson, the vaccuum cleaner guy. He described patents as a major pain because they are expensive to obtain and defend and don't really do much to help the small inventor anymore (which is what they were originally intend to do) and because patents have become weapons used by big players to stifle competition. But at the same time he also said he wouldn't want to live without some sort of patent system and took an example in his company's bladeless fan. It took them several years and tons of money to develop and they'd hardly released it when the market was flooded with cheap ass Chinese copies. The problem from Dyson's point of view is firstly that the copies are crappy and don't work very well which reflects badly on Dyson whose product actually works. Secondly the patent system (broken as it is) still helps companies like Dyson to crack down on copycats, even in China and even though the Chinese take significantly longer (years) to process foreign patent applications than they do Chinese patent applications (months) in violation of WTO regulations.

  • by pipedwho ( 1174327 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @10:14PM (#47421541)

    The system is not so silly when you look at how it works in practice, []

    The greater flexibility does not restrict innovation, and that should be the key test of it's usefulness.

    This is because an "innovation patent" is not examined until it is challenged, at which point, the ones that don't meet patentability requirements will only be rejected at that point and not before. The duration of an Innovation Patent is also much shorter than a standard patent.

  • Re:mh (Score:4, Informative)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:50AM (#47422475) Homepage Journal

    Because it was already [] patented []

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein