by Dan McGuire -
Number of replies: 3


Invent a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.

Sounds like a good plan – a quick search on Google for ‘better mousetrap’ returns just over 200,000 hits

So what do you do if your idea really does result in something useful? We’ve already discussed the concept of ownership of ideas, the idea itself is yours as long as you keep it to yourself. If you want to do something with that idea, chances are you’ll be looking at a patent to identify it as yours.

Patent is the legal protection afforded to inventions and innovations. Patent applies to things, or more specifically the way those things are made or work. A Patent provides the patent owner with a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of the device described by the patent. Patents may also be applied to methods of manufacturing or creating objects, Recently patents have been used to protect more esoteric things such as ‘business practices’

Obtaining a patent is not a simple process. In some cases, the legal fees paid to patent a device may be the largest portion of the development costs. Another challenge for patent owners – they may be considered an asset by the tax man, resulting in annual costs to maintain them.

There is a fundamental exchange between society and the inventor when a patent is granted. When applying for a patent, the applicant must reveal the details of how a works and how it is made. Once the application is filed this information becomes part of the public record. This means that for any patented device the general public, including any potential competitors, are able to look up exactly how that device works. Once the term of the patent has expired, other manufacturers are free to use the information to manufacture competing devices.

For an entertaining look at patents, have a look at these web sites:

Totally absurd Patents:

Crazy Patents:

Could an instructional method be patented?

If so what would need to be done to do so?

In reply to Dan McGuire

Patent for an instructional method?

by Sylvia Currie -
I'm too busy checking out the totally absurd patents site to get to the real question Dan asks: Could an instructional method be patented?

The featured item is pogo shoes with a suggestion that you also need the bulletproof buttocks. big grin

Anyway, the idea of a patent for an instructional method seems just as absurd as bulletproof buttocks to me. But the scary part is that probably a method could be patented. It seems to be in the same category as the Blackboard software patent claiming they had the idea for a course management system first. One of the best analogies for that controversy was by Dave Cormier:

This is what the blackboard patent does… it patents the learning management system equivalent of doors and windows. While Blackboard may have done different things with their software they did not invent the IDEA of ‘doors and windows’, they worked on ideas that already existed and added their own twist.

Is an instructional strategy the equivalent of a course with students and an instructor?

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Patent for an instructional method?

by Alice Macpherson -
Much of the manifestation of intellectual property seems to be the corporate manipulation of what philosopher Martin Heidegger called "standing reserve" - broadly conceived as those items in the world that humans put to their own use and whose meaning is grounded in that use - for the purposes of "profit" which included exclusivity with boundaries often defined by money.

A story about Alverno College concerns a particular corporate entity that inquired on how they could purchase an educational process that the faculty at the institution had developed. They replied, "Oh, no. We're educators, we give it away."

I am appreciative and grateful for this response for two reasons:
one - It shows some of the potential of learning as a community-owned process. This is inclusive, rather than exclusive and invites interaction rather than commodification.
two - It encourages similar behaviour in myself.

still "owning" my ideas and behaviours ... and I share. :-)

In reply to Alice Macpherson

Re: Patent for an instructional method?

by Dan McGuire -

Some more reading...

This article gives a brief overview of the David vs Goliath legal cases, where individual inventors went toe-to-toe with corporations - and won.

What do you think motivated these inventors through these legal cases?