I enjoyed ”The Death of Business-Method Patents” [March]. A patent application should contain three things: (1) the work done, summarized in a paragraph indicating the contribution of the applying individual or business; (2) the applicability or utility of the patent to be sought; and (3) the requested scope of the patent. Items 1 and 3 would signal red flags if the scope of the patent sought was significantly different from the work done; items 2 and 3 would limit a patent to something less than ”anything under the sun” dealing with the method or process. These items, combined with making it illegal to sell or transfer a patent, may significantly improve the patent system. The idiotic patent claims mentioned in your article tend to stem from patents involving concepts rather than items, that is, patenting ”a way of doing X” rather than ”something that does X” and suing anytime anyone finds a way to do X that may or may not be similar to yours. There should always be a way of working around a patent. If such a workaround does not exist, then you have a concept or a law of nature, not a patentable item.
Michael J. Lewchuk, IEEE Member
Edmonton, Alta., Canada