Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Patents to the left, patents to the right

A truly daft patent appeared on Slashdot today from Nintendo who have “protected” their rights over portraying insanity in a game. In effect this is a (mental) health bar in a game. Yes, they have taken a completely standard gaming concept and managed to find a way of patenting it with a small change in emphasis. Write a game where you play a character who hallucinates; for instance seeing blood on the walls that is not really there – urm ... now I think I'm losing touch with reality – they are talking about a fantasy inside a fantasy with a visible device so know you're going over the edge – well we all need one of those.

So what, you say. Well it's all about the corporate mind. If it moves then patent it. It probably won't ever get infringed. They probably don't care if it does. It's all about protection and FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). If they get sued for something else, then with enough patents they may be able to counter sue. Talk about silly games.

Harking back to a comment of Kevin's (I think) about the psychotic corporation (probably based on the movie/book “The Corporation” where typical corporate behaviour was checked off against a list for psychotic behaviour; they got near to 100%) what does this tell us. Corporates cannot create and they cannot innovate but they can keep hurling mud until something sticks somewhere. The paranoid need to have ridiculous amounts of ammunition in case a war happens along and vague possibility that they will miss the next big thing lead to unbelievable budgets for the legal and billing department while the core of the company may well get outsourced or never insourced in the first place like Enron who (potty enough to be called “who” rather than “what”) were only a billing and contract creation company. OK so Nintendo do actually make stuff but how long might it be before they start to think that only the patents matter?

As an aside on patents I see that Apple has lost to Creative as to who made the first MP3 players. Mine is a 6GB Creative hard disk mp3 player, bulky, weighs a ton, depletes batteries till they glow, but it still works; funnily the only modern software that lets you load it seems to be iTunes. It also lost to a Microsoft employee for first thinking of the thumb wheel. Is there a chance these companies will all sue themselves into oblivion?


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