Jan 022006

The Copyright and Patent laws originally written by the founding fathers were designed to encourage invention and creation of new works, especially among individuals and small businesses. Unfortunately, the system has degraded to the point where the laws make invention a rather dangerous prospect, especially for individuals and small businesses. Large corporations own huge patent portfolios and hire many lawyers to handle the hassle of modern patent/copyright law. In efforts to protect themselves from lawsuits and edge out competitors, many corporations are applying for more-and-more general patents. The laws simply do not do what they were intended to.

As an example of how far things have gone, here’s a statement I recently read about Capital One’s “No Hassle” mileage program:

The mileage requirement is based on the following calculation: The Miles Required for Ticket Redemption will equal the Lowest Available Published Fare (LAPF), based on the Cardholder’s chosen itinerary, multiplied by 125 (i.e., if the cost of the itinerary chosen by the Cardholder is $150, the Miles Required for Ticket Redemption will be 150 x 125 = 18,750. If the cost is $300, Miles Required for Ticket Redemption will be 300 x 125 = 37,500). This unique methodology is proprietary to Capital One and the subject of pending patent rights.

It doesn’t get much more ridiculous than this: a patent on multiplying by 125. I know it’s a lot of work to write your representative distinguishing ‘the spirit of the law’ and ‘real world effect of the law’, but at least be aware of this issue. Yet another example, in my opinion, of how far our country has strayed from the original intentions of the founders.

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