I am aware that this blog often reports on progress that is not yet visible. We are hammering away on things that will matter soon and be visible here. One of these is patents, which take extraordinary time and money, at least ours do. We filed another one yesterday.
Some of my friends think this is wasted energy. Many others who are less close know only about patent trolls, and that the system is broken so they assume that I am engaged in something smarmy. The patent system is indeed broken, and there surely are trolls who should be stopped because they are sucking energy out of the economy.
But folks, the patent system is less broken than the justice system in general. Though patent trolls are often scum, compared to the parasitic banking system, the drag on productivity is of the nuisance variety. Lets fix this, possibly by requiring that any suit must be from someone using their idea in a product. Lets work to patent true invention. And let's exclude rights like the use of Elvis' face from the system. But the basic idea is good, very good.
Even with the system we have, there are compelling reasons for someone like me to seek patents.
The one overarching reason for me is that if you own an idea, you have some say in who uses it. I speak from experience here. I built something in the past and was astonished at the use it was put to. True, lasting, significant damage to our democracy. This could happen again, and if this current batch of insights is as powerful as we suspect, we can't do much about its use in the long run. But we can sure control it in the short run, unless the patents become black. But we think we have managed to defeat that.
The system is based on some attractive ideals, first imagined by Thomas Jefferson as one cornerstone of an open democracy. The paramount goal was that inventions need to be promulgated, so one requirement is that they be described in a manner that someone normally skilled in the art can build it.
For us, this is an extraordinary challenge because we work beyond the normal skill set in more than one dimension. We may have missed the mark so far as some examiners are concerned, because they seem to think a junior college trained Java programmer is the standard. But the discipline of reworking the inventions, the implementations and the descriptions has been helpful to us. We genuinely want this to be used and the patent disclosure process has forced us toward more general and immediate utility.
Some version of these disclosures will be included in the essays here.
Some, probably much of what we will do will be open source, or some appropriate equivalent. But we will be demonstrating the utility of the system by building something that has value and does stuff no one else can do. And to do that we need investors, and they need the protections patents allow.
Insurance against Copying
An unappreciated value of a patent is that the examiners' job is to deny you your invention by finding a previous version of it somewhere, patented or not. The Office is a bit thick in some respects and relies too much on key word searches, but they can do a rather thorough job. Their work plus our knowledge of the field helps insure that we are not inadvertently copying someone else's work.
I'm very proud of our research and the commitment to the novel. None of the in-process applications have issued patents yet. In one case it has been over six years! But I am happy to share the filings with anyone who wants to see them. Alternatively, you can find much of it online in the various search engines.