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.