Readers may or may not have noticed this patent application, applied for by UK patent attorney Tim Roberts (thanks to Justin Watts, who noticed it on Greg Aharonian's Patnews service, for pointing it out). The application is titled "Business Method: Protecting Jokes", and purports to do pretty much what it says. The first claim (of many) is to:
"The process of protecting a novel joke which comprises filing a patent application defining the novel features of the joke"In an attempt to find out what the motivation for making this application was, the IPKat contacted the inventor/applicant himself. He responded as follows:
"One of the objects in filing this application was certainly to test the bounds of patentability (in countries which show some sympathy towards the idea of patenting business methods and which do not require enormous expenditure in translating specifications out of English). Another was to add to the gaiety of nations. Other objects (as American drafters say) will become apparent from reading the specification - see for example page 8, lines 10-12. As to whether the patent application will mature into granted patents, only time will tell - and as usual there is plenty of time available. The US Office is doing its best to string out prosecution by directing all correspondence to Germany".Page 8, lines 10-12 say:
"A particularly preferred form of joke is one in which the intentions of the teller are uncertain : is the intention humorous or serious, or both?"This application poses some difficult legal and philosophical questions, including a version of the Russell paradox, i.e. can a patent refer to itself as an embodiment of its own scope?
The IPKat is also mildy concerned by the possiblity of this post infringing claim 17, which claims:
"The joke which comprises the filing of a patent application to protect the method of protecting jokes by filing one or more patent applications thereon"The inventor offers non-exclusive licences under claim 17 on "exceptionally reasonable terms". The IPKat thinks, however, that since this post is definitely not a joke, there is no need to worry. Or is there?