Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Take #8,442,839 for the Team

Penn State University is selling some of its patents, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation pays special attention to one of them here.

That patent, which is #8,442,839 as referenced in the headline, is titled "Agent-based collaborative recognition-primed decision-making."

Yes, you read that title right. Someone at Penn State patented teamwork. The EFF people note that the patent would probably not hold up if someone tried to collect use fees from someone who attempted to solve a problem using teamwork. Legal reasoning would probably point out that teamwork's use predates the patent's 2005 filing (Messrs. Roosevelt and Churchill are suspected to have relied on it just before the middle of the last century in ridding the European continent of some truly pestilential vermin). Which just goes to show you how silly some of this is, because not much more than the sense God gave a grasshopper would seem to be necessary to understand that you can't patent something like teamwork.

Of course, viewed from another angle, it could be that patent #8,442,839 doesn't cover all teamwork so much as some specific aspects of it, like meetings. Which would require people who wanted to hold meetings to get a license from the patent holders or pay whatever fee they deem appropriate.

I could get behind that idea.

(H/T Ars Technica)

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