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Patent The A and Patented Storylines
Status: Patent the A is satire; patented storylines is serious
The Ecchi Patent Company claims to hold a patent on the letter A:

The rights lie with us for all forms of the letter A, including, but not limited to, uppercase, lowercase, accented, Cyrillic, put in a little circle (e-mail users please note), in code, and in any form we may not have thought of already.

Supposedly you need to obtain a license from them in order to use the letter A in any form: "we will soon begin prosecuting people who fail to purchase a license and continue to use the letter A." Of course, this is a joke. Unless you invented the letter A, you wouldn't be able to patent it. The creator of 'patent the A' admits it's a joke on another site he's created.

But in a similar case, Andrew Knight has filed an application to patent a fictional storyline (he says it's the first time anyone has ever sought to patent a storyline), and he doesn't seem to be joking about this. Here's the highly original story Knight seeks to patent:

The fictitious story, which Knight dubs “The Zombie Stare,” tells of an ambitious high school senior, consumed by anticipation of college admission, who prays one night to remain unconscious until receiving his MIT admissions letter. He consciously awakes 30 years later when he finally receives the letter, lost in the mail for so many years, and discovers that, to all external observers, he has lived an apparently normal life. He desperately seeks to regain 30 years’ worth of memories lost as an unconscious philosophical zombie.

Seems to have shades of Rip Van Winkle, to me. Anyway, I truly hope Knight doesn't succeed in his effort (if he is actually serious about it), since if authors are able to patent storylines, it would seem to me to spell the end of literature. Plus, it's often said that there are only three basic storylines: man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. self. So no story is truly original, and therefore shouldn't qualify for a patent.
Law/Police/CrimeLiterature/Language
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 04, 2005


I once read that in former centuries copying the work of others was positively regarded as stimulus for economics and culture. Just a thought. Off course it's not a good thing when other people make money om something you invented. But really ... Today these copright issues are becoming silly.
Posted by Henri  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  07:03 AM
The three basic storylines needs an update. Now there is man vs. robot, nature vs. robot, nature vs. nature, hobbit vs. orc.

Probably a few more out there. I agree though, I don't see how you could patent a storyline. Wouldn't it be and easier to just copyright it? He'd still be protected.

I'm guessing he's hoping that someone will browse his patented plotlines and look to buy them from him. That's a lot less effort than actually writing a complete story or novel and trying to sell it.
Posted by Chris Carlisle  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  09:44 AM
LEt him patent it big fucking deal all you have to do to get aorund a patent is change one small detail.
Posted by Tim  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  01:47 PM
Platypus, robots, hobbits and orcs are all just forms of "man," simply with exaggerated characteristics. As Asimov said, you can write about a silicon-based tube worm on Io, but they have to have the soul of a human.

And Alex, I'm sure the letter A is copyrighted as it's sponsored an episode of Sesame Street.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  03:35 PM
I think there are at least two other plot types: Man vs. Society, and Boy Meet Girl.
Posted by Big Gary, slipping a little  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  05:36 PM
Boy MEETS Girl, I mean.
Posted by Big Gary, slipping a little  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  05:37 PM
Citizen Premier sez:
"I'm sure the letter A is copyrighted as it's sponsored an episode of Sesame Street."

Or at least the letter is well-heeled.
Posted by Big Gary in Antarctica  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  05:40 PM
Vampire vs Vampire!
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  05:58 PM
Man vs. The Empire Brain Building.
Posted by Nat  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  09:19 PM
Copyright already protects original fictional works, even rough plotlines like the one quoted here.

A good way to dilute the copyright and the patentability is for millions of derivitive works of The Zombie Stare to appear on the internet.

Here's an <a >idea</a> for an ending.
Posted by Travis A Finucane  in  CA, US  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  02:05 PM
I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Despair Inc. which has patented the :-(

http://www.despair.com/demotivators/misfortunate.html
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  02:26 PM
Despair.com didn't actually patent the frownie symbol. They registered it as a trademark. Trademark protection can last forever. Patents run out after about 20 yrs.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  11:49 PM
Fight it.

Give the kid an application from Harvard or Mizzou instead.
Posted by Yaanu  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  04:55 PM
Trademark. Yeah, that's what I meant.

And I had just read the damn thing too.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  05:46 PM
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