Commentary

Patently crazy

Quick, patent the process of putting on pants one leg at a time. You just might get rich. Seriously, recent excesses with patent’s, from Amazon trying to patent its “one-click” method for bringing up stored customer information when orderin online and beyond–see here and here. The latest! Some yob wants to patent the idea of selling cereal at a restaurant. Story here. Patents make sense as a way to secure property rights for something recognizable as an invention. But thanks to entrepreneurial lawyers they are becoming a get-rich quick scheme or a means of eliminating legitimate competition. The incredible stretch by the cereal restaurant guy tells the story. They assert a patent for their “methods and system” of selling cereal. These included: “displaying and mixing competitively branded food products” and adding “a third portion of liquid.” Enough to make you toss your Cheerios.

Adrian Moore

Adrian Moore, Ph.D., is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.