Settle It Now

The suit of the guy who patented selling auction items at a fixed prices is over and
eBay lost. Is it just me or does this seem like something so general and obvious it shouldn’t have been patentable? Does someone hold the patent for selling auction items at ever increasing prices? It seems crazy to me. “Hey, let’s sell items at a given price!” “Genius! Let’s patent that!”

At work, at one point I was looking for information about internet netblocks from the registry sources. We were looking for geographic information about chunks of IP addresses. I wrote a script that went through the space and interpolated between the known (to us) blocks. My boss at the time wanted to file a business method patent. I was a little incredulous. “You mean you want to patent looking between things? I believe there’s a few thousand years of prior art in that.” I was asked to patent the binary search. Sadly enough, it might even have been patentable in this particular problem domain. That just seems silly to me. At that point, patents aren’t about new and different innovative ideas but about land grabs. Silly, greedy and just plain dumb, I think.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.