In case you hadn’t seen it, the US Supreme Court has upped the ante in the software patent fight. This article in The Register reviews a recent ruling by the USSC about what constitutes ‘obviousness’ in a patent. Now, instead of getting experts to argue whether a patent is valid or not, and having a judge weight the evidence, there has to be physical evidence that someone thought of it before the person who applied for the patent.
From the article:
The Federal Court of Appeals has recently used a “suggestion test” to determine whether or not a patent is “obvious”. The EFF argues that the test forces those opposing a patent’s grant to produce documents proving that even the most obvious improvement has been suggested before.
So, now is the time for all good geeks to come to the aid of there software. The first thing to do is to start blogging about every obvious invention you can think of. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you think of it, blog it. Blog everything you can. Don’t keep it to yourself, or assume everyone knows its the next step.
With all of the recent Blackboard patent fiasco, I really wish I had published some of the ideas I had floating around in the early 90’s. But there wasn’t a medium to do it. I would have had to write a peer-reviewed article for a journal, and ideas for future products aren’t likely to get accepted. But now we have blogs. I’m going to start a new blog and write down everything I think of to keep someone from patenting the damn idea.
Perhaps we need a new web app. Here’s my prior art on a system called -Register the Obvious. The invention is a place where anyone can login, create an account, and then register their obvious ideas. They will be encouraged to think of the most trivial inventions and improvements possible, and put them on a website. The site will include tools for thinking of obvious inventions (think of two prieces of software, put them together, write down the resulting system).
I think we could get a great database of creativity up and running. Who knows, it might even lead to some real innovation…