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USPTO Issues 8,000,000th Patent

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the congratulations-i-think dept.

Patents 108

toybuilder writes "It took nearly 80 years for the first 1 million patents to issue in the U.S. On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued its eight-millionth patent. This most recent 1 million patents took only about 5 years."

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108 comments

High time to stop them (2)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118590)

Or most technological advances will not improve life on this planet.

Re:High time to stop them (1)

CaptainInnocent (2439004) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118608)

Well, the human population numbers have growth insanely during the recent years too, as has technology. We have invented so much more within the last 100 years, despite patents (or because of patents), that they must have done something right.

Re:High time to stop them (1, Troll)

Stellian (673475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118666)

Obesity also increased from virtually unknown to over half of the western population. I think we are evolving to a super race of fat and smelly geniuses.

Re:High time to stop them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118762)

I didn't hear your mom complaining last night.

Re:High time to stop them (2)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118816)

That's probably because your fat suffocated her before she got the chance.

Re:High time to stop them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119786)

That's what she sai... oh nevermind.

Re:High time to stop them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118888)

I think we are evolving to a super race of fat and smelly geniuses^Wretards.

FTFY

Re:High time to stop them (3, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118972)

Why would you credit them (the USPTO, I assume?) with the progress of the last 100 years? I'm pretty sure we'd have seen just as much progress without them. The USPTO is just a money sink that creates expensive paperwork for people who just want to get stuff done.

Re:High time to stop them (1)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119446)

If we didn't keep them (patent clerks, businesses, courts) busy with patents they may have got up to much worse antics.

Patent clerks (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119678)

Yeah, they might invent new theories (relativity, atomic energy etc) and then we would really be in the shit.

Re:High time to stop them (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37121692)

I'm pretty sure we'd have seen just as much progress without them.

You don't think a company would be shy about spending say a billion dollars to develop a new gadget if a competitor could duplicate it and have it on shelves within a few months?

Re:High time to stop them (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37121820)

I think a company would be very shy. With or without patents - my company agonizes over office supplies costing far less.

Take a look around at the tech industry companies.

How many "R&D" departments do you see?

How many are actually doing any "R"? (I can think of about 3).

How many are "spending say a billion dollars to develop a new gadget"?

And even with today's "Intellectual Property" regime, how many popular "gadgets" can you count that are not cloned within a few months?

Re:High time to stop them (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37124164)

No I don't. First to market usually wins. And when it doesn't, patents aren't going to save your market share either.

Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118644)

Runaway government is more difficult to stop than a runaway freight train. (Don't think for a second that the business of government isn't the primary beneficiary of current patent law. The system consistently rakes in more money to the business of government than it does to any one if their associates in the "private" sector.)

Re:Good luck (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118708)

The system consistently rakes in more money to the business of government than it does to any one if their associates in the "private" sector.)

Huh?

Re:Good luck (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118898)

If there is such a thing as non-runaway government, I am not aware of the country they govern.

Re:High time to stop them (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119424)

Only that they won't be available in the US.

But how many of the granted patents are useful in reality?

Re:High time to stop them (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#37120686)

If the patents aren't of any use, then why are they filed? All that's doing is overloading the patent office with work, to prevent them from doing proper review on meaningful patents.

Re:High time to stop them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37120708)

lawsuit fodder, threatening someone with 100 patents is better than just threatening them with one.

Re:High time to stop them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37121636)

So the 1 million patents took 1/16 the amount of time they had taken in the past. Considering the population of the US in 1850 was 23 million, not much more than 1/16 of the current population, it's not entirely unreasonable. Until now, I thought the situation to be much worse.

Wow all these inventions! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118602)

This most recent 1 million patents took only about 5 years.

So, that means there's more technology being invented which should boost the economy and get us closer to a World like in Star Trek? Right?

All those patents are useful and unique - right?

Re:Wow all these inventions! (3, Funny)

Stellian (673475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118736)

All those patents are useful and unique - right?

Right. According to IP industry insiders, what we need is a Patent Stimulus to end the recession [mises.org]

The nice thing about this Patent Stimulus Plan is that it will cost only a small fraction of the amount of money we have already wasted on failed economic stimulus. What we need to do is have President Obama issue an Executive Order directing the Patent Office to start allowing patents. A 42% allowance rate during the first quarter of 2009 is wholly unacceptable. So while you are at it President Obama, order the Patent Office to issue a patent UNLESS there is a reason to deny it.

Re:Wow all these inventions! (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118982)

It would be so awesome if the Patent Office every patent when there's a good reason to do so. Unfortunately they just don't seem to check them.

Re:Wow all these inventions! (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119592)

It would be so awesome if the Patent Office denied every patent when there's a good reason to do so. Unfortunately they just don't seem to check them.

Re:Wow all these inventions! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119928)

This is because they're not paid to deny patents, they're paid to grant patents.

If we want to see any improvement in the quality of patents being granted, we need fundamental changes in the way the patent system runs, and not the corporate sponsored ones that keep getting rammed through. First, they need to do away with the quotas for "granted patents". If there's going to be a quota, it should be for "processed applications". Second, they need to re-define what is and is not patentable, to eliminate some of the crap and junk patents that should never have been granted. Seriously, business models, software, and re-iteration of some old patent that's about to expire with "on the internet" added to the end of the description should all be denied out of hand, freeing up time for the examiners to look at actual inventions.

Re:Wow all these inventions! (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37120094)

1 million patents took only about 5 years

1 million brain farts in 5 years, world economy is in the crapper, the rich are richer, the poor are poorer, and the guy in the middle is bent over even more (without any lube). So we must conclude that more patents means being worse off for the majority of humanity. Something be wrong here people...

Geordi's visor? (3, Informative)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118606)

So essentially, US patent #8,000,000 is more or less a very, very early version of Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge's visor. We have a long way to go.

Re:Geordi's visor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118970)

and as soon as someone builds one they'll get sued out of existence.

Re:Geordi's visor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119712)

No. If you take a dump 8 million times and you get shit, when you hit 16 million, it will still be shit not gold.

Re:Geordi's visor? (2)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 2 years ago | (#37121428)

Of the million's of major technical issues in building Geordi's visor, Patent #8,000,000 is about automatically turning off Geordi's visor when it isn't being worn.

Despite the fact that almost every portable device has sophisticated software systems to automatically power down any unneeded subsystems, they patented automatic power down when "an error is detected". This patent is a great example of what is wrong with the U.S. patent system. Almost every new RF and power distribution standard comes with automatic power down protocols for safety and power savings reasons. Every cell phone automatically powers up and down the transmit and receive circuitry to save battery life. Almost all portable medical devices incorporate automatic power down for safety reasons, and to save on battery life and power consumption. This patent covers a feature absolutely necessary on any practical implementation of "Geordi's visor", without contributing any useful technical information.

Thanks to this patent, if someone actually solves all of the technical issues in allowing blind people to see, they can look forward to being sued for mega-bucks for their great service to mankind.

AC Obtains 8,000,000th First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118618)

cockspanker writes

"It took nearly 80 F5's for the first 1 million frosties to be posted in the U.S. On Tuesday, the A.C. Patent and Troll Office demonstrated its eighth-million frosty piss. This most recent 1 million frosts took only about 5 years."

So? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118626)

I would assume that patents are in some way related to the commercial value of technology. Otherwise there wouldn't be the money to do all this patenting.

Thus this report is a good thing.

What to do about it?

1. Monetize it. Increase fees of all sorts.
2. Use the income to improve the system. Better prior art searching for example. Better examiners.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118854)

Monetizing it and increasing fees will only mean that only the big megacorps can afford to patent things, while the lone inventor (think James Dyson for instance, well at least when he was starting) struggles to protect their I.P.

- Colourspace Posting AC

Re:So? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118906)

The patent system is already quite expensive for the small businesses. The PTO office isn't so bad, but to come up with a any decent patent that will make it through, you need to hire a patent lawyer which will cost in the $300 to $500 an hour range. I just went through it and it's excruciatingly painful and expensive.

Then there is this:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/08/05/138934689/the-tuesday-podcast-the-patent-war

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37120604)

Simple checklist before spending any time looking for prior-art.

Is it a mechanical device? Proceed with checking
Is it software? Yes, Rejected
Is it an abstract idea? Yes, Rejected
Is it specific, ie - well documented, narrowly defined, easily comprehendible? No, Rejected
Is it being submitted by or on behalf of a large corporation? Yes, Rejected
 

Sue! (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118630)

Oddly, it was a patent for a method of issuing patents given to a small legal firm, who then filed a lawsuit against the Patent Office.

What if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118654)

I think it would have been hilarious if patent #8,000,000, to be recorded in the annals of patent history for all time, was some ridiculous, bullshit software patent on something horrifically obvious and broad.

Re:What if... (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119258)

Patent 6,000,000 looks to be a bit like that. A patent on syncing data from a mobile device to a computer with a single button press. Still, looking at the patents listed in the article, they seem surprisingly valid. I'm getting the feeling that the USPTO is gaming the numbers on these patents so that they aren't really a random sampling. I imagine rather that they sat around in a conference room for a bit going over eligible applications and decided which ones to grant for these milestones.

This week! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118692)

And 2 or 3 might be valid!

Meaning two things.. (1)

craznar (710808) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118754)

1. If I ever invent something original, I wont own it - because I can't afford to patent it.
2. If someone actually has some world shattering amazing break through which could change the world - but they are not wealthy, that secret will go to the grave with them.

Go innovation... yippie.

PS: I fit into both categories, and I'm taking the goods to the grave.

Re:Meaning two things.. (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118958)

Well, if you're resigned to not make money off it anyways, why not attempt to write it up in a different form and publish it under the GPL or a similarly sticky open license; or publish under the creative commons?

You'll still not make money off it, but it'll be wide open in the public domain, available for everyone to pick up and improve the world with it, and unable to be locked in a corporate vault.

Re:Meaning two things.. (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119998)

Because with 8,000,000 patents on the books, the chances are someone already has some patent out there that's vague enough to cover your invention (with a creative interpretation and the lawyers to make it stick) without having done any actual work, and they'll just sue everyone who goes near it.

Re:Meaning two things.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37121318)

Then release all data you have on it anonymously to as many sources as possible. It should not have even remotely, slightly entered your mind to just 'never ever release this 'make the world infinitely better' idea because I need a lawyer'.

Option 1. Whup, can't get together a thousand bucks for a patent, guess I'll just watch all civilization burn in hell despite my ability to stop it, purely because I can't myself make money off of it.
Option 2. Whoops, looks like I just released all of my data into the wild in like... anywhere online I could post it. Well shit, looks like the lawyers that were going to sue me into existence even if I attempted to patent it will just have to suck it up, because someone anonymously seems to have posted everything everywhere, saving the entire planet in the process.

Therefore, craznar is full of shit.

Re:Meaning two things.. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37123350)

if it's of practical value, then the patent is just icing on the cake.
just eating the icing makes you fat and stupid though.

Not 8,000,000th patent (4, Informative)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118758)

This was patent #8,000,000, or the 8,000,000th numbered patent. before the 1830s, patents were issued but not given numbers. I choose to be pedantic, rather than think about the travesty that our patent law has become - I'll leave that to someone else just this once.

patent in my pants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118774)

I have a USPTO patent in my pants!

Re:patent in my pants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118808)

uspto pants party!

8,000,001st Patent (1)

Tasha26 (1613349) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118800)

Method for putting spoon in mouth...

Re:8,000,002nd Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118874)

Method to lift food off plate using 2 pieces of wood ... :)

And nothing of value was gained... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118920)

nt

I'm proud to say... (1)

ejtttje (673126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118954)

My grandpa got several patents in the 1940's, back when a patent actually meant something other than a method and system for trolls to screw over real innovators :-P FU USPO

Re:I'm proud to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119320)

Phfft! What are you talkin' bout! Do you even know what kind of stranglehold Alexander Graham Bell and the eventual monopoly AT&T had on telecom thanks to the patent system?

JESUS

Re:I'm proud to say... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37124742)

My grandpa got several patents in the 1940's, back when a patent actually meant something other than a method and system for trolls to screw over real innovators :-P FU USPO

I don't quite understand why some achievement of one's ancestors is a reason to make one proud.

Somebody said it better, just Google for "ancestry Samuel Butler" [google.com]

Yes, and 7,900,000 are crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118968)

See Subject:

Simple solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119016)

1. Make patent applications progressively expensive (with a reasonable cap), while keeping the first one affordable to independent inventors.

2. Do the same for fees keeping patents alive.

3. Use most of the extra income to allow each patent examiner more time per application.

4. Use some of the extra income to help independent inventors who can't afford paying a good IP lawyer $10,000+ per application.

BTW, the purpose of a patent is to allow the inventor a temporary monopoly in exchange for publicly disclosing ALL the steps needed for others to create and benefit from the invention.

In other words, patents provide incentive for people to share necessary details for others to reproduce their invention.

Lastly, people seem to freak out about "broad patents" when they read a patent's title. However, it is the CLAIMS that define the scope of the patent. Read the claims and laugh at the title. Most of the time, CLAIMS are too broad (so they can be invalidated due to prior art) or they are too narrow (easy to work around.) Usually, the claims are too narrow if the examiner is given sufficient time. The few that are too broad make the headlines but are not the norm.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119196)

It would make even more sense to allow different technologies and types of patents to have different validity periods, but it can't be done due to WTO demands.

If only there was a party that would defend American sovereignty against these nasty international laws and organizations...

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37120710)

I'm a patent attorney and I agree with you 100% on differential terms for different fields being a big improvement. Not that it's ever going happen, unfortunately.

Don't completely agree with the WTO and various implementations of GATT etc, but it's a little shortsighted to talk of "American sovereignty" wrt to patents when we'd otherwise have US multinationals taking advantage of differences in patent protection abroad to skirt domestic infringement. In a global economy, isolationism just doesn't work.

Re:Simple solution (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119578)

What we need to do is go back to the system where the USPTO is primarily funded by the government and ensure that there's sufficient funding to properly review every application. If bullshit patents start being denied with regularity a lot of the bullshit applications will stop being submitted.

Quantity before quality! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119018)

On to the next 8,000,000 'innovations'....

English much? (2)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119030)

"Eighth-million patent" -> "eight millionth patent"

Yeesh - true geeks would say the editor's off by a factor of 2^5.
 

Re:English much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37120256)

They'd probably say that 8 / (1/8) is a factor of 64 before 2^5

How sad... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119032)

Most patents are completely ridiculous these days. In addition to that patents only serve to hamper innovation.

It's completely ridiculous to own an idea; somebody else might have the same idea at the same time, introducing actual competition. It also helps in creating monopolies and serves to strangle the market.

reexams (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119074)

Considering how often high profile patents wind up getting overturned or narrowed on reexamination I propose that the front line of examiners of first instance that are simply rubber stamping everything that comes across their desk are either overworked or incompetent or both.

The fact that many of them are getting overturned later, either in court or on reexam, is strong evidence if not outright proof that most of them never should have been issued in the first place.

The USPTO needs to stop issuing bullshit patents. It also needs to hire more examiners so that patent busting reexaminations at least keep up with the rubber stamp train.

Finally, we need a loser pays court system that punishes companies that try to win cases, or even settlements, simply by outbudgeting their foes in court. All a company needs to do is use its legal department to harvest lucrative settlements and put the proceeds to hiring more lawyers and they're rolling in the dough.

Unfortunately the establishment is happy keeping things the way they are.

Even if I got into office and tried to stop it, my reforms would piss off enough companies that their lobbyists would force my fellow congress critters to give my ass the happy boot, either through expulsion or by impeachment.

Re:reexams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37121894)

Even if I got into office and tried to stop it, my reforms would piss off enough companies that their lobbyists would force my fellow congress critters to give my ass the happy boot, either through expulsion or by impeachment.

They wouldn't do that. It would set a precedent that none of them want.
First, you'd be moved to the most boring, least influential committees. Then some scandal would pop up, and even if you are innocent, you'd be asked to resign. Next, if you are a Democrat or Republican, you wouldn't get help from your national committee come election time and they'd hype a challenger to boot you out during the primaries.

Greed? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119124)

Why would this get tagged as greed? If you ask me, it's the /. readers that are greedy for thinking that inventors shouldn't get legal protection for their hard work.

In response to the "get rid of patents" posts: if you had your way we would still be living in the 19th century. Why should I spend a ton of time and invest potentially millions of dollars coming up with an invention? Because my hard work will pay off and I can make a profit. This profit motive is protected by the patent process. If you take that away, why should I invest all that time and money?

The fact is, without patents we would have far fewer inventions and technology would advance at a much slower pace.

Now lets talk about patent "trolls." Lets say I invent something, but don't want to actually deal with developing a commercial product. Thanks to patent "trolls," I can sell my patent to them! This allows me to still be rewarded for my hard work, without having to develop a business around my idea.

Re:Greed? (2)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119216)

The fact is, without patents we would have far fewer inventions and technology would advance at a much slower pace.

If software patents were issued in the 70's, we would have practically none of the mainstream computer tech we have today. Every single piece would be too legally encumbered.

There are other incentives for inventing things like being the first to market etc.

And implementations of software are already protected under copyright anyway.

Re:Greed? (2)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119284)

If you take that away, why should I invest all that time and money?

You shouldn't. Leave getting rich to people like Bill Gates, or the other people and companies that made computer software up through the 90's (especially the 1998 State Street decision) before software became generally patentable. They seemed to do just fine without them.

Re:Greed? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37120426)

Why would this get tagged as greed? If you ask me, it's the /. readers that are greedy for thinking that inventors shouldn't get legal protection for their hard work.

In response to the "get rid of patents" posts: if you had your way we would still be living in the 19th century. Why should I spend a ton of time and invest potentially millions of dollars coming up with an invention? Because my hard work will pay off and I can make a profit. This profit motive is protected by the patent process. If you take that away, why should I invest all that time and money?

The fact is, without patents we would have far fewer inventions and technology would advance at a much slower pace.

Now lets talk about patent "trolls." Lets say I invent something, but don't want to actually deal with developing a commercial product. Thanks to patent "trolls," I can sell my patent to them! This allows me to still be rewarded for my hard work, without having to develop a business around my idea.

The problem is that having 90% of all patents be complete unoriginal BS leads naturally to impulses to throw the baby out with the bathwater and get rid of the whole system.

If we were only now talking about the millionth patent coming up some time in the next 25 years, I bet there'd be absolutely no one suggesting we get rid of patents.

8,000,000 more reasons for bad economy. (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119144)

8,000,000 government issued patents is 8,000,000 more ways in which innovation in the economy is stifled. That's 8,000,000 ways to prevent people from attempting at bringing products to the market. That's 8,000,000 ways multiplied by each claim in each one of those patents, multiplied by the number of patent lawyers around to start lawsuits, which do nothing to improve anything in economy.

That's 8,000,000 ways in which government prevents wealth from being generated by the public sector. That's 8,000,000 ways to protect monopoly power. That's 8,000,000 ways to prevent choices in products from entering market and competing on merit. That's 8,000,000 ways in which other competing economies will have millions of competing products and wealth generated if they don't discard the notion of US patents, and since the USD power is diminishing every day, the other economies have fewer and fewer reasons to care about US patents.

That's 8,000,000 ways in which wealth is drawn from the private sector and is directed at government. That's probably just a small portion of all the patents that were ever looked at and evaluated and assessed.

That's 8,000,000 ways to corruption, as patents are granted without looking at the rules of the patent office itself, without prior art being considered and with ideas being patented that never should be patented even by the patent office rules.

That's 8,000,000 x X ways, that money was removed from private economy, where it can invested and was put into public sector, where it's squandered (where X is the ratio of patents filed to patents granted).

That's 8,000,000 - that's a fraction of the size of the government. The people in the patent office, if instead of working for government, they were working in the private sector, they could have been productive members of society.

8,000,000 ways to mod this comment we know how.

General increase in bureaucracy (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119154)

This kind of acceleration in government can be seen everywhere.

Compare the sizes of the law books* put out by your state's legislature this year against ten or a hundred years ago.

I recently had to do some deed research at the County Registrar's office. Documents are organized by "book" and "page" number, for example, a deed will be referred to as "Book 123, Page 456." It took something like two hundred years for New Hampshire to hit book 1000, another 50 or so to hit Book 2000, and only a couple decades to make it to Book 3000. They're currently in 3800 or so. These books used to be used to record just deeds and mortgages, but now there's every manner of trivial document in there.

* Not the statutes themselves, but the book of bills that passed in a given legislative session.

Re:General increase in bureaucracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119304)

Of course, then you consider that anybody and everybody can produce documents these days, in quantity and verbosity, without much trouble, and you realize, that hey, maybe there's a reason for that expansion.

Your average American household could easily have more written material than the vast majority of humanity saw in their entire lives.

Re:General increase in bureaucracy (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119618)

The problem is that the ability of the people to comply with increasingly byzantine laws isn't increasing at a similar rate. The rule of law depends upon the people being governed being capable of knowing all the things which are prohibited. In the US at least we've long since past the point where one could reliably know what is and isn't prohibited and under what conditions.

Re:General increase in bureaucracy (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37121088)

The rule of law depends upon the people being governed being capable of knowing all the things which are prohibited.

Well...not exactly. I had a history teacher in high school (college, maybe?) discuss the difference between how laws are generally created, interpreted and enforced in the U.S.* and the U.K. vs. how they are generally created, interpreted and enforced in mainland Europe**. In the U.S. and U.K., there is a list of things that are prohibited, and the laws are enforced rather strictly. That which is not prohibited is allowed. In mainland Europe, he claimed, the laws are written to describe what is allowed and that which is not allowed is prohibited. However, the laws are not enforced as strictly. Rather, laws are enforced when a violation of the law causes a problem ("selective enforcement"). There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. In the U.S./U.K. model, "justice" is the goal -- you can't be arrested at the whim of the powers that be. In the mainland Europe model, common sense is the goal. Yes, technically something you are doing might be illegal, but you likely won't be arrested unless you are causing a problem.

*According to my instructor, there are exceptions in the U.S. He specifically mentioned NOLA, which is largely influenced by French culture.

**IANAL, and I have never been to mainland Europe, so I am merely repeating what I was told in class. It may or may not be accurate, although I would certainly be interested in hearing confirmation or rebuttal from someone who has better information than I.

8 millionth? That sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119714)

It's hard to believe we've let the curse of patents to continue to exist. Abolish them, please, and make the world a better place.

All these "inventions", but no economy? (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119826)

Gee, you would expect that with an entire country full of inventors, who are able to generate patents at such a rate that we've had a million patents in just the last ten years, that this country would be humming along brilliantly with a strong economy, and lots of people working on bringing those inventions to market.

But the sad state of affairs is that most of those million patents are for things which already exist with the words "on the internet" tagged onto the end.

"Method and Practice for Taking a Dump... On the Internet" Woo! A new invention! Quick, submit it to the patent office! Next step, sue Google!

I'm willing to gamble that most of these million patents were submitted by patent lawyers or patent trolls (same thing), who patent something obvious, and then sit and wait for Apple to implement something close, and then blammo, they pounce.

Patents are no longer about inventing or creating, patents are about lawsuits and greed. Like everything else in this country, it's about corruption and gaming the system, leading to less innovation, less creating and therefore, less economy.

Re:All these "inventions", but no economy? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37120458)

We have a pretty strong economy, actually. The strongest on the planet. It's just not as strong as people would like it to be, or imagine it could be, if only X had been handled differently.

"Method for Filling Out a Slow News Day" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37120102)

was my guess

A few million (1)

OFnow (1098151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37120264)

A few million patents here, a few million patents there, and pretty soon it is a real patent portfolio!

I'd better hurry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37120392)

I've developed a method for issuing patents using more than 7 digits in their patent number.

I'd better hurry up and patent it.

Population? (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37120542)

It took nearly 80 years for the first 1 million patents to issue in the U.S. This most recent 1 million patents took only about 5 years.

And the average population of the US from 1790 (when the first patent was issued) to 1870 was around 15 million. Now it's around 300 million.

So... For the USA's first 80 years, we had 1/16th the patent rate of today, but 1/20th the population.

Is this, then, a story about how patent rates are declining?

Re:Population? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37123366)

only if you patent choosing the stats like you want. 1980-1990 the population levels weren't that different from now.

At least... (1)

moberry (756963) | more than 2 years ago | (#37121362)

Well, at least it wasn't a patent for a linked-list. Oh wait, that's number: 7028023.

Re:At least... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37123198)

They probably shuffled around the order they were granting/denying them in, so that they had a slightly less embarrassing patent for the milestone number.

Once in a million patents (1)

pablodiazgutierrez (756813) | more than 2 years ago | (#37123962)

Let's see a quick history of inventions over time, one million at a time:

  • 7M (2006): Polysaccharide fibers
  • 6M (1999): Extendible method and apparatus for synchronizing multiple files on two different computer systems
  • 5M (1991): Ethanol production by Escherichia coli strains co-expressing Zymomonas PDC and ADH genes
  • 4M (1976): Process for recycling asphalt-aggregate compositions
  • 3M (1961): Automatic reading system
  • 2M (1935): Vehicle wheel construction
  • 1M (1911): Vehicle-tire

Interesting to look at an evolution of what was patented at different times in history.

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