Patently Obvious

In the current world setup, intellectual property is the hot property. This seems fine when the inventors have worked their gray matter hard, staying up nights and almost drowning in coffee, but things seem less reasonable when a sequence of someone’s DNA is patented. This spills over to GMOs when their promiscuous spreading of pollen contaminates other farmer’s crops, who then are liable to be put out of business for patent infringement.

With ‘big bucks’ promised for your patents, the patent offices are under increasing pressure to handle more and more and, as nobody likes paying taxes, with less rather than more staff. So patents don’t seem to be getting the detailed scrutiny that they once did. Reading some recent patents can be fun (1).

There is an interesting one granted by the Australian Patent Office for a Circular Transportation Facilitation Device to John Keogh. The Patent Application Number is AU 2001100012 A4 and it has nice pictures of an old style cartwheel and also a cart to put it on. I wonder if the guy who dealt with the application walks to work?

Another one is a US patent that has been granted just in time for the winter rush. This one was granted to Ignacio Aperas and the Number is 8,011,991 B2. It is for a device to help make snowpeople – the usual three-ball model – and consists of light spheres which can be coated with snow.

The so old-fashioned solid type hurt the inventor’s back and weren’t sufficiently spherical to satisfy his aesthetics, but he rather missed the other advantage. Many of us live in areas where snowfall is light and it’s difficult to make a large snowperson. Now we shall be able to, as the light spheres only need a thin coating. I have already started saving for my ‘Snowperson Maker Kit.’


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