Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Examples of Total Legal Failure: The U.S. Patent System

The U.S. patent system isn't so irreparably messed up that someone could go and patent something as ubiquitous, public, and historic as a stick (a stick as in the former branch of a tree), is it?

Yes, it seems, the U.S. patent system is so bad and stupid that they let someone patent a stick. The illustration in the patent is particularly mind-boggling. If you currently use or have ever used a stick, you owe these people royalty payments. You can send them to me and I'll make sure they get to the right person ;)

Some other winning U.S. patents (via Reddit):
So, we can add the U.S. patent system to the list of legal frameworks that have become so perverted from their original intent that they probably need to be done away with and rebuilt from the ground up. See this earlier post of mine for a similar analysis of the current, absurd U.S. copyright laws.


  1. A reading of the stick patent shows that it's for an artificial stick. I don't see what's absurd about that.

  2. The patent also states that it could be made out of wood, not necessarily just artificial materials, and that does such innovative things as "is chewable," "floats," "is easy to pick up off the ground," etc. I would also think that sticks, whether real or artificial, have been around for a long time before 1999, when this patent was first applied for. I suppose the inventor might have felt the need to patent this particular stick configuration of stick, though I personally can't see the value in that, either to society or to the inventor. I'm reminded of companies trying to patent various forms of hyperlinking, e.g. and (one unsuccessful, thankfully, and one pending).

  3. I think there's a mountain man somewhere with pretty compelling prior art in the stick department.