Murrel. Org Updated 1/18/2004  

  Silly Patents Reviewed
   by Murrel,
   January 18, 2004

I have been asked about my usage of the term "silly patents". Obviously I am unimpressed by silly patents, but many of them seem to be quite lethal and held by companies who are all too eager to try and enforce them in the courts.

To understand why I refer to some patents as silly patents we need only look at the patent laws themselves.

The idea of patent law is to provide financial protections to the inventors of new technology so that he can pursue his technology and make it available to the world. This would incent inventors so that they would be willing to spend the time, energy & money necessary to come up with and work out new ideas without having them stolen by other once they are proven.

But for an idea to earn protection it must be both original and non-obvious. By original, it means that the idea cannot be one that is in general use. That is, an idea is non patentable if you just find an unpatented idea that is in use elsewhere and apply for a patent.

So a silly patent is one which the US Patent Office issued which violates one of these two cardinal rules. And in the computer and tech field there are companies who's sole corporate existence is to find these kinds of patents which were issued by error and then take users to court to blackmail the legitmate idea users.

When USPO issues a patent for an idea which is in common use or is obvious, I call it a silly patent which shouldn't have been issued at all.

But if it's not a valid patent, why does the patent office issue them? Basically its a question of the USPO being overburdened complicated by the state of the art of technology. The USPO can't keep up with the changes of technology and what is a new idea vs what is in common usage. They also frequently fail in determining what is non-obvious.

Below is an incomplete list of Silly Patents I have complained about in these web pages:

URLs Patented, Domain Registrars Sued
Judge Rules MS Infringes Eolas Silly Patent
Gates Gets Another Silly Patent
FTC Finally Notices Effect of Obvious Patents
Silly Patent 6636857 Software Updates via Internet
W3C Challenges Eolas Silly Patent
MS Patents Weather Reports
VeriSign Sitefinder Violates Silly Patent 6332158
Another Silly Software Patent
Another Silly Patent
More USPO Probs
-Murrel Rhodes