Patents, profitable investments and ridiculous stoppers

Lluis Turró Cutiller

Today showed up in a mailed article that Steve Jobs owned a patent on glass staircases. Did he had in mind fabricate staircases? Glass staircases? Or did he saw somebody with one and thought: What the hell! Let's put some money on this and wait for future rewards. Again came to my head the time when Microsoft wanted to patent the fact of writing documents in XML format... even before they use it and after the Open Document Foundation created the open document format and OpenOffice ship it as standard! Crazy world, indeed.

OK, lets make an exercise: has somebody patented something called song? Yes, you play instruments and sing out loud. This we call a song. Imagine we were in a moment on time where songs did not exist and patent offices existed. Then we saw someone singing and gave us the idea of patent it. Songs will be charged with patent and copyright royalties. At least for some years. While the author created the song, the patent owner don't need to. Wasn't just cheating someone else?

Scientist do not own the patents, the investors do. It's a risk, undoubtedly. Thus, investors MUST recover investments. Yes, totally agree. But, a glass staircase? A document stored in XML format? Is that risky at all?

There should be a difference between recovering investments and simply speculating. The same there is a difference when speaking about fundamental knowledge or headhache pills.