Alright, you have you coffee ready? Because today it is going to be a philosophical one. I have been mentioning the whole ordeal about patents and my 180 degree turn with my opinion about it. From a business point of view, that makes perfect sense; patents even make perfect sense. But today it is actually about putting something in a different spotlight; patents are to protect inventions. But what, just picture it, if the concept of an invention does not exist, but there are only discoveries?
Aha, see. Take that sip of coffee right now, or move on to your next blog posting you have to read this morning.
As we read the whole barrage of patent requests, and don’t get me wrong – I have some myself running as well – from very intelligent to some that really raises our brows, it can be seen how many companies simply trying to protect their invention. Some with the intention to work hard on it, some simply to ‘own’ that invention, if it every will be made or not. An interesting one was Amazon’s patent on using studio photography for separate objects with a white background. Really, follow this link to read about it.
As I was very ‘pro’ patents before. if you invent something you would like it to be ‘yours’ and have it protected while you work on it. Then came my 180 degree turnaround, when more and more of the very weird concepts were patented simply to own the property. But actually, maybe another perspective should clarify why there might not exist any inventions at all.
We talk about inventions as if someone made something that was new. That did not exist before. But still, we already call inventions a ‘great discovery’. It was already there, it was simply never seen before. And someone in their right mind, tried to look closed in a certain direction, and figured out the connection between certain elements that made something new work. A great example was highlighted in previous episodes of Cosmos on FOX, where the discovery and description of the laws of gravity were perfectly noted by Newton, while the reason why and how gravity worked was discovered by Faraday. We use things that are simply there and put them to their full potential.
When you work with programming code, things become much clearer. Although most programmers will make a program do what it needs to do simply by repetition and doing what they learn from the books or make the libraries work for them. This is perfectly fine, but this is utilizing a tool, and doing the basic work. But there are a number of programmers that have an idea, and need to make it work. And they start to dabble with the codes, the lines they know what they do. They mix up the ingredients of methods and classes to finally have something new happen, and if it is done well enough, you can even patent it.
But where does this make sense? Programming is simple logic. If you put things in the right order, there will be a certain outcome. Heck, even the basics of programming mean that anything that you do is either TRUE or FALSE. It is nothing new, the language is built to tell you that. I mean, if I write the following:
I will receive the response
No matter how unique I make something, it will be false or true. Even if I build complete functionalities that let me do still them, it will only work if the outcome to the computer is ‘True’ every single time. But actually, what your computer is telling you is that TRUE = it exists and FALSE = it does not exist. You discovered new things when programming. You discovered that by adding all the ingredients in the right order made something appear to you that was already there to be discovered, but no one simply went there before.
Just like that Faraday discovered what actually made gravity work out for the universe, and Newton discovered the laws of gravity before him. Anything new is a simple discovery by analyzing and putting logic elements in the correct order. And something new would be revealed.
You see where I am going with this? Ah, sure, it is Monday morning, so you might need that extra sip of coffee or you may very well discard this whole train of thought 🙂 You won’t hurt me personally 😉
Now, if everything is a discovery from something that was officially always there, just, not discovered, how can it be an invention? Inventing means that you really came up with something new, that really did not exist before. True, to undermine my own statement made here before, there will be elements that could be considered inventions since they are not something that is a result of a simply logic following of pre-existing elements. The wheel, for example, is one. And a lot of other physical inventions are others; the light bulb, for example. Sure, it is making use of the effect that making a copper wire glow so brightly which is a natural effect. But putting it in a glass tube, and putting it to good use, is something else. The bulb was the invention, not the electric light.
But with programming, it is hardly the same thing. Or, photography for that sake. What is there to patent for Amazon in the studio patent. The direction of light? the background used? It makes no sense. Neither do all the multi-touch patents from Apple make any sense. The original touch-screen? Sure, that can have a patent, but how can be something that simply makes use of something else be patented.
Really, the swipe to unlock your device is patented. Now, just think about it. What is patented? The swiping of your finger across a touch screen. And doing so, it unlocks your device. Let me rephrase that. Apple patented you moving your finger from left to right while touching a piece of glass. Done. Oh, and by doing so, you unlock your device. Neither the movement itself can be patented, nor ‘unlocking’ your device. Nor touching the glass plate. But putting those ingredients together delivered them a patent.
Amazon could not patent the studio, nor the light, nor the objects to be photographer, nor photography, nor the white background, nor the closed up space. But somehow they were awarded the patent to put the light exactly there, your camera over there, and an object on a while background.
Now, to round this up; let’s just all agree to one thing; and invention means that a discovery was all yours, and you put your things all in order to make it work. That is your thing. You came up with it:
My Patent = (Element(mine) + Element(mine))|| Element(natural) + Element(mine)) == discovery)
So, that means that or you mixed up something that exists in nature and did something new to it that was your totally your own. Congratulations, you are an inventor!
But as the following makes clearly sense:
(Element(yours) + Element(yours) || Element(natural) + Element(yours)) != My Patent
That makes sense, no?
Sure, look, I am no scientist. I have a patent pending on just as much code created by others. But that makes sense, no? I mean, if I don’t do it, someone else will prevent me working on my own thing. And that is what is wrong here; If I don’t grab that patent, someone else does. And voila, there is your answer to the patent trolling issue right there. And I am just as responsible for it as we all are.