Patent Nonsense

The Eclectic Light Company

Forty-four years ago, the world was every bit as exciting, disturbing, and innovating as today.

At the depth of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall split families and friends, the Russians pipped the Americans to the post by sending the first man into orbit around the earth, and the First Edition of UNIX was released.

There is no coincidence that the first major purpose to which the new UNIX systems were put, was the processing of patent documents. The ensuing twisted and often bitter relationship between patents and computing has not ceased to amaze. For although patents long preceded computing – the earliest recognisable patents being awarded in the 15th century – it was the advent of computing that ensured a patent explosion.

The first mistake in the perversion of patents was their extension, most notably in the USA, to cover intangibles such as software and even design concepts.


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