Michael Burke, MJLST Staff
Most people are not up to date on the latest and greatest patents. Most wait for the idea to be reported in the media, or see the idea’s physical manifestation at their favorite technology store. But this past week, Stephen Colbert made a point to inform his late night audience–and the public at large–about the latest patent filed by Amazon: taking photos against a white background. On March 18th, The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Amazon with their “Studio Arrangement” patent numbered U.S. 8,676,045. Amazon’s filing essentially gives the company the intellectual rights to taking any picture in front of seamless white backgrounds.
Michael S. Mireles, Jr.’s book review, The United States Patent Reform Quagmire: A Balanced Proposal, helps to provide a framework of why weak patent ideas unfortunately receive the blessing of the United States government, and how patent reform efforts can help resolve this problem. Mireles provides a two-tiered approach to solving the problems of the patent system by attacking the current system at its weakest points: the issuance of weak patent grants from the USPTO and the liberal upholding of the validity of weak patents.
Allowing weak patents to exist undermines the genuine purpose of assigning ownership of intellectual property. The result has been a “dangerous and expensive arms’ race, which now undermines rather than fosters the crucial process of technological innovations.” Most certainly, someone needs to develop and implement a quality idea for change. Who knows, under the current system, maybe he or she could patent it?