To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts?

Stephan Kinsella taught me something interesting today:

I am not sure if non-practitioners realize exactly what goes on in patenting. Quite often medium to large sized companies hold "patent mining" sessions. They are usually not trying to come up with ideas that they might use in their business. What you do is you get 5-10 engineers to sit around a coffee table, and they are led by a "facilitor" (often a patent attorney). They talk about what they've been working on, and try to find little twists or aspects of a design that they can file a patent on. Or, they'll sift thru a bunch of patents in an area that competitors are practicing in, and just brainstorm, thinking of things they can file patents on. Not because they intend to use these ideas. But just to build up a thicket of patents that they can use against another company, either defensively (i.e., a countersuit if the competitor sues them); or to extract royalties or to squelch competition.

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Trademarks

I now think every single person who works at Deep Focus Inc. is scum:

SABR moves to block trademarking of term "sabermetrics"

No one at Deep Focus Inc. has been involved with the statistical analysis of baseball, nor did they coin the phrase sabermetrics, nor did they help promote it or get it into general usage. But they do want to extract money from those who did and those who currently use the term.

It's a pretty old practice

"We in the patent office would like to patent every idea you have for the United States government, for which you are working now. Any idea you have on nuclear energy or its application that you may think everybody knows about, everybody doesn't know about: Just come to my office and tell me the idea."

It's a pretty old practice, Take 2:

I'm having trouble with hypertexting, so here's the address:
http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=280480687&blogId=332428072