2001-07-18 – Prior disclosure, and the prior art

Years ago, as a student, I used to simply pick up my toast, and the pack of butter, and save on the useage of a knife (and a plate for that matter!). Obviously, this wasn’t perfect, and a kind of butter \”Prit-Stick\” would have been much better. Imagine my surprize when I got a forwarded \”funny\” on the email, with numerous pictures of \”stupid\” Japanese inventions. Butter on a stick has been done! Ruddy Japs! I have yet to find out if they patented it, since it is obviously disclosed, but then, the Japanese man who decided to patent curry didn’t care. I will try to dig up the picture from the archives.
There are many new problems with the patent system, since the rules were changed slightly. You may now patent anything which is \”a recognised process\”, which means people are doing stupid stuff, which is already disclosed, and blatantly obvious. The power of the internet is such that many of these things are common in one country, but unheard of in another. For example, the Canadians and Americans have penny roll holders, which are transparent, thin plastic holders for coins. You can fit 25 in each one, then clip it shut, so you can deal with change very rapidly, whereas in the UK the banks give out coin bags, into which you count the coins, then the bank weighs them! The US system is obviously better, yet I have never seen it in the UK. In theory, I could patent that as a new way to do business, so the banks would then have to pay me for the right to use this obvious idea, that is currently used by 300 million+ people!
The weird thing is, often, these patents do get granted. So, someone thought, as you do, \”Can I make some money by breaking patents?\”. If you go to BountyQuest.com, you can see who and where the big money is in breaking patents. Given the poor state of the prior art searches being carried out, particularly with the now big money Internet technologies, you could win yourself over $10,000. If you do, remember me, please!

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