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Apple Patented by Microsoft 336

An anonymous reader writes "C|net is reporting that Microsoft received a patent on Tuesday for a new variety of apple tree. U.S. Plant Patent 14,757, granted to Robert Burchinal of East Wenatchee, Wash., and assigned to Microsoft, covers a new type of tree discovered in the early 1990s in the Wenatchee area, a major commercial apple-growing region. Dubbed the 'Burchinal Red Delicious,' the tree is notable for producing fruit that achieves a deep red color significantly earlier than other varieties. It is sold commercially as the 'Adams Apple.'" Apparently, the assignation of the patent to Microsoft was an error. Or so they would have us believe ...
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Apple Patented by Microsoft

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  • by rd4tech ( 711615 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:47PM (#9070108)
    MS Air, the most breatheable air you can find arround. Decreased cost on large volume orders of our EULAir licences.
    • by mattjb0010 ( 724744 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:55PM (#9070168) Homepage
      MS Air, the most breatheable air you can find arround

      That would be their next bold move [azlyrics.com].
    • Oh great. (Score:5, Funny)

      by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:04PM (#9070217)
      Does this mean I should expect the blue sky of death?
    • by falcon5768 ( 629591 ) <Falcon5768NO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:06PM (#9070223) Journal
      there is a Spaceballs joke here if anyone can find it :-D
    • by Riktopher ( 763186 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:17AM (#9070567) Homepage
      I suppose that explains all the holes in the ozone...
    • by Segway Ninja ( 777415 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:12AM (#9070800)
      Why eat pomegranate seeds when you can simply devour the soul-eating MS Burchinal Red Delicious Apples!


      IMPORTANT-READ CAREFULLY: This Microsoft End-User License Agreement ("EULA") is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single entity) and Microsoft Corporation for the Microsoft organic substance accompanying this EULA, which includes glucose and may include associated media, printed materials, and "online" or electronic documentation ("ORGANIC SUBSTANCE" or "FRUIT"). By exercising your rights to make and use copies of the ORGANIC SUBSTANCE, you agree to be bound by the terms of this EULA. If you do not agree to the terms of this EULA, you may not use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.

      The ORGANIC SUBSTANCE is protected by copyright laws and international copyright treaties, as well as other intellectual property laws and treaties. The ORGANIC SUBSTANCE is licensed, not sold.
      1. GRANT OF LICENSE. This EULA grants you the following rights:
      Installation and Use. You may consume, use, access, display, or otherwise interact with ("RUN") a copy of the FRUIT for your personal, noncommercial use only. You may RUN the FRUIT on a Fruitbowl area network (FAN) or the Internet and you acknowledge that client fruit Burchinal Red Delicious Apple supports a maximum of 16 players. Neither the ORGANIC SUBSTANCE nor this EULA gives you any rights to use the Internet, the client software for Burchinal Red Delicious Apple, or any on-line or other services or fruits that may be necessary to use all features associated with the ORGANIC SUBSTANCE. The right to any additional services or fruit as described herein is subject to the end-user license agreement associated therewith and may be subject to additional charges.
      Reproduction and Distribution. You may reproduce and distribute copies of the ORGANIC SUBSTANCE; provided that a) each copy shall be a true and complete copy, including all copyright and trademark notices; b) each copy shall be accompanied by a copy of this EULA; and c) such distribution shall not be for commercial purposes.
      Limitations on Reverse Engineering, Decompilation, and Disassembly. You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the ORGANIC SUBSTANCE, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation.
      Separation of Components. The ORGANIC SUBSTANCE is licensed as a single product. Its component parts may not be separated for use on more than one human.
      Fruit Transfer. You may permanently transfer all of your rights under this EULA, provided the recipient agrees to the terms of this EULA.
      Termination. Without prejudice to any other rights, Microsoft may terminate this EULA if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of this EULA. In such event, you must destroy all copies of the ORGANIC SUBSTANCE and all of its component parts.
      Multiplayer Play. This ORGANIC SUBSTANCE may contain features which allow you to host games for other players games in connection with the ORGANIC SUBSTANCE over a network or the Internet ("Multiplayer Play"). By using such features or otherwise engaging in Multiplayer Play, you agree that Microsoft or its agents may generate, store and transmit certain information which identifies your MOUTH to other MOUTHS for purposes of Multiplayer Play. You also agree that the ORGANIC SUBSTANCE may continue to generate, store and transmit such game information as necessary for Multiplayer Play. You agree that Multiplayer Play is not supervised or otherwise under the control of Microsoft or its agents. You acknowledge and agree that Microsoft and its agents have no control over or responsibility for your experience while engaged in Multiplayer Play, or any content or other information or data you may create, encounter or receive, including chat, while you are engaged in Multiplayer Play.
      3. COPYRIGHT.
  • by phoenix.bam! ( 642635 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:47PM (#9070110)
    ...this is a joke, right? Seriously, if the patent office is given out patents for naturally growing TREES, something is wrong.
    • by caldnath ( 733510 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:48PM (#9070121) Homepage
      well, you know how fast government works...
    • by Allen Zadr ( 767458 ) * <Allen.Zadr@nospAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:49PM (#9070138) Journal
      I thought joke too, but it was merely a mistake.

      However, yes, genetics are patentable. This includes specific Hybriding.

      • by Temsi ( 452609 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:07AM (#9070781) Journal
        OK... RTFA.
        It says the tree was discovered. It's not a man made hybrid of any kind. He reproduced a genetic mutation. He didn't modify anything, and as such should not be issued a patent for the tree, as it is a discovery, and not an invention.

        Genetic modifications can be patented, not genetics themselves, and certainly not something which existed in nature with no input from man.

        You just can't patent something natural you just discovered... what's next? Patenting oxygen or water? What about the Do-Do bird? Maybe some crazy scientist manages to bring it back to life through cloning, should he receive a patent on the Do-Do bird? He didn't create it, he copied it.

        The say the mistake was issuing the patent to Microsoft, not that it was issued in the first place.
        • Genetic modifications can be patented, not genetics themselves, and certainly not something which existed in nature with no input from man.

          that's what you think. I hold the patent on human life! pay up!

        • by sepluv ( 641107 ) <blakesley@gmail . c om> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @07:32AM (#9072000)
          Actually this is totally correct. It is perfectly possible in the USA for me to find one of your hairs lying around and patent your genetic sequence so you have to pay me to reproduce. Muhehhawww.... No, I am not joking.

          It is common for existing wild plants (oriduced purely by natural selection) to be patented and then people who have them on their land or use them are sued (e.g.: indigenous peoples who have used them for medicine for thousands of years). It's called biopiracy (see the book of that name).
          RMS is currently campaigning against this.
        • Actually, unique varieties of plants have been patentable in the U.S. for over seventy years. Acoording to this site [tamu.edu], the Plant Patent Act of 1930 says: "Whoever invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or plant found in an uncultivated state, may obtain a patent therefor..."

          The act was but in place in large part because of the works of famous plant hybr
        • by thetroll123 ( 744259 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @08:44AM (#9072282)
          The[y] say the mistake was issuing the patent to Microsoft

          Understandable... that's the default in the "Patent Holder" field.
    • by RotJ ( 771744 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:50PM (#9070143) Journal
      I think if you develop a specific breed, you are given the sole rights to use it for commercial purposes.

      Read here [uspto.gov].

      • by zurab ( 188064 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:00AM (#9070751)
        I think if you develop a specific breed, you are given the sole rights to use it for commercial purposes.

        I don't know what you mean by "develop" but you don't even have to invent the plant to get a patent, you can simply discover it and patent it, as long as you know what it is. From the link you provided:

        A plant patent is granted by the Government to an inventor (or the inventor's hiers or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. (emphasis mine)

        Basically, if you discover a plant and can genetically describe it, you can patent it. It's a plant for crying out loud, can you patent your dog? Oh wait... is there anything you cannot patent?
      • This worries me.


        Deep inside the complex maze of offices at Redmond, microsoft is working on genetically modifying humans to produce THE PERFECT MCSE. After some trials on apple trees, they were practicing creating something that looks and tastes nice, but leaves a disgusting aftertaste. Now they are shifting focus to humans. The perfect MSCE has the following qualities:

        • Looks swank in a suit
        • Doesn't know at all what he/she is talking about
        • h
    • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:51PM (#9070148) Journal
      Large transnational corporations like Monsanto, DuPont and others have been investing into biotechnology in such a way that patents have been taken out on indigenous plants which have been used for generations by the local people, without their knowledge or consent. The people then find that the only way to use their age-old knowledge is be to buy them back from the big corporations. In Brazil, which has some of the richest biodiversity in the world, large multinational corporations have already patented more than half the known plant species. (Brazil is estimated to have around 55,000 species of flora, amounting to some 22% of the world's total. India, for example, has about 46,000.)

      © Centre for Science and Environment
      Global Environmental Governance

      A patent gives a monopoly right to exploit an invention for 17-20 years. To be patentable an invention must be novel, inventive and have a commercial use. Controversially though, the US and European patent offices now grants patents on plant varieties, GM crops, genes and gene sequences from plants and crops. The current WTO patent agreement, TRIPs - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - has been very controversial in this respect for many developing countries who want to have it reviewed, but are being somewhat blocked by the wealthier nations from doing so.

      As reported by Environment News Service, "Knowledge is proprietary. It belongs to corporations and is not accessible to farmers," [Dr. Altieri] said. Altieri feels that biotechnology has emerged through the quest for profit, not to solve the problems of small farmers. "Scientists are defending biotechnology ... but at the same time there's a lot of money from corporations going into universities, influencing the researchers in those universities in the wrong direction," Altieri said.

      The cost to developing countries in "pirating" their knowledge has been considerable:

      "Vandana Shiva believes that the West has a clever structure in place. Using convenient patent laws as a system, the Trade Related Intellectual Property [TRIP] instrument as a stick and the World Trade Organisation [WTO] as the enforcing authority, the First World is seeking to 'rob' the Thirld World. She says in a rigorous article: "When the US introduced IPRs in the Uruguay Round as a new issue, it accused the Third World of 'piracy'. The estimates provided for royalties lost in agricultural chemicals are US$202 million and US$2,545 million for pharmaceuticals. However, as the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), in Canada has shown, if the contribution of Third World peasants and tribals is taken into account, the roles are dramatically reversed: the US owes US$302 million in royalties for agriculture and $5,097 million for pharmaceuticals to Third World countries."" -- Abduction of Turmeric provokes India's wrath, Good News India, January 2002

      Some examples

      In Texas, a company called RiceTec took out the patents on Basmati rice (which grows in the Indian and Pakistan regions) and have created a genetically modified Basmati rice, while selling it as normal Basmati -- and it was not against the law, either. In fact, four of the patents were withdrawn in June 2000, when the Indian government formally challenged the patent. However, it, and other incidents continue to raise controversy on patenting indigenous plants. Eventually though, 15 of the 20 patents were also thrown out by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) due to lack of uniqueness and novelty. However, towards the middle of August 2001, three patents were awarded to RiceTec -- to variants called Texmati, Jasmati and Kasmati, all cross breeds of Basmati and American long grain rice, while RiceTec was also given permission to claim that its brands are "superior to basmati" as reported by the Guardian, who also point out the uproar that has caused in Indian political circles. The article also points out how RiceTec CEO doesn't understand why there is such a fuss over this,
      • *sigh*

        Long live capitalism.
        • Your comment could not be validated, a closing sarcasam tag was detected without a matching opening tag or valid doctype please edit your document and try again.
      • Controversially though, the US and European patent offices now grants patents on plant varieties, GM crops, genes and gene sequences from plants and crops.

        Well, if I seeded the hardiest of the tough corn with itself 500 times to create a new breed of tough, hardy, drought-proof corn, I would want to be able to patent it too. If I walked into the rainforest, picked a flower, and decided to patent it, that would be just wrong though.

        Everything in moderation.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:31AM (#9070893)
          But think it through a little...

          WHat if this corn replaces ordinary corn, who does it belong to?

          In Saskatchewan (Canada), there are farmers whose field have been spoiled by bio-tech seeds that travel quite far (spoiled because they cant sell to european non-GMO countries) from other farms and who are getting sued by the large corporations for illegally using their products.
          The farmer got screwed AND sued.

          There were hundreds of different kinds of rice in India and now the majority of rice grown is 2-3 kinds. If these remaining are all GMO rice, then you basically have a billion people hostage to your logic.

          Hell, who wouldnt believe the company line how theyre doing 'for the good of humanity'.?
          I think they even have Reverend Lovejoy's wife doing PR for them.
        • by peacefinder ( 469349 ) * <alan.dewitt@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @02:01AM (#9071003) Journal
          I read Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire a while back. In it, he points out that apples don't breed true. That is, if you plant the five seeds from, say, a Braeburn apple you get in the store, you'll end up with five very different trees producing five very different fruits, and in all likelihood none of them strongly resemble the Braeburn. Consistency in a variety is achieved exclusively through grafting.

          Apple varieties are often discovered, and occasionally developed. Red Delicious was found on some guy's farm in Iowa back around 1870... he made a mint selling cuttings. Braeburn was a chance find in New Zealand.

          Congress obtains the power to establish patents via Artilce 1 Section 8: "[...] promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries [...]"

          I think it's not clear. No one ever invented or authored any variety of apple, but it is a discovery with substantial economic value. The potential for a patent on apple varieties probably does promote the growing of test orchards to find new varieties, so that probably counts as promoting useful arts.

          I don't much like the idea of patentable life, but I suppose it's within the power we grant to Congress.

          I'm glad it's a patent and not a copyright, though. :)

      • FYI, if you want to find where posts like this are from (i.e. who wrote it) you can google large chunks of text in quotes.

        i.e. google "most contentious aspects of the text which stated that farmers" (with the quotes) and you will see that this was lifted from here [globalissues.org] This article is so long that sections may have been lifted from various places... to find them, just use google...

      • by Rura Penthe ( 154319 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:52PM (#9070446)
        I'd like to see a reputable source regarding the claim that RiceTec marketed a genetically modified version of basmati rice as regular rice legally. And hopefully when you say "genetically modified" you meant done in laboratory since cross-pollination is also genetic modification. The US has extremely strict rules on the sale of (laboratory) genetically modified food. However, it CAN make it to market, unlike some other countries.
        • by ward ( 7051 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:31AM (#9070890) Homepage
          RiceTec's 'basmati' is not GM rice, but just hybrid rice. It's available on most supermarket shelves, at least in the Houston area (home area for RiceTec). It's not Basmati, but they are happy to claim that it is.

          On a side note, the US has strict rules on the sale of GMO foods, but no labelling restrictions exist. Once it's approved by the FDA for human consumption, I can put it in any sort of packaging I want, sell it in the produce department, whatever. I can't claim that it's not GMO, but I can do something like produce a GM rice and call it basmati.

    • I'm from Yakima, which is right by where this tree was originally bred. I assure you, there are probably at least a dozen new varieties every year, and most of them are patented.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:47PM (#9070111)
    Speaking of plant patents: Which patented plant are they smoking at the patent office.
  • by RucasRiot ( 773111 ) <webmaster@q-cat.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:48PM (#9070116) Homepage Journal
    Remember Apple Records' suing Apple Computer for selling music-related products? I bet they REALLY won't like this!
  • by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:48PM (#9070117) Homepage
    OK, I give up. I see where this is going. Let's skip to the end move now: "Hey, M$, Take my DNA and patent it and put me out of my misery now."
  • by coupland ( 160334 ) * <[dchase] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:48PM (#9070125) Journal
    While the patent application itself has no information to link it to Microsoft I can't help but imagine this was the brainchild of a Microsoft employee who is a Mac enthusiast and who has a decent sense of humour. Obviously this is not a Microsoft patent but I suspect we have a MS huckster with a penchant for the kind of humour that's popular on /.

    Good for him/her, if you spend all your time scowling at Microsoft your face will freeze that way. Ya gotta smile from time to time. :)

  • Just in, Microsoft has now patented it's users ! The Copyright Department of the US Gov. issued this copyright after it's head offical recieved an "anonymus" gift of 25,000,000,000. Microsoft claims patenet on it's users due to the fact it has integrated idiots across the nation into it's system, and they can't fuction without it :P
  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:49PM (#9070132)
    Sun patents the Moon, news at 11...
  • by The Human Cow ( 646609 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:49PM (#9070136) Homepage
    Unfortunately, in order to eat this apple you're going to have to have two mouths, 350 teeth, and the stomach the size of a small child.
    • by craXORjack ( 726120 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:40PM (#9070401)
      Also you have to sign an NDA, an EULA, and a second mortgage before you begin eating the apple.

      At random times during consumption, the apple will unexpectedly evacuate your stomach and you will have to start over.

      You will be charged a yearly subscription fee for eating the apple whether you actually ate any of it or not. However you will get a slightly reduced rate by agreeing to eat the apple (and nothing but the apple) for the rest of your life.
  • A tree (Score:2, Funny)

    by RubberDuckie ( 53329 )
    Interesting that you can patent a tree you 'discovered', and did not create. Perhaps I'll patent air.
  • Hey, if this is a good enough stunt for Lindows to pull on Microsoft... why can't Microsoft do it too?
    (But this time do it right by getting patents)

    Maybe Apple can retaliate by getting a patent on a particular type of four-paned window.....
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by elid ( 672471 ) <eli.ipod@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:50PM (#9070142)
    ...this goes under the 'Apple' slashdot section?!?
  • Error. (Score:5, Funny)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:50PM (#9070144) Homepage
    Apparently, the assignation of the patent to Microsoft was an error.

    A Microsoft spokesman refused to comment on the substance of the error, but alluded to a secret project named "Money Tree". When corrected that money does not in fact grow on trees, but rather on bushes and shrubs, the Microsoft spokesman paused in contemplation, then ran quickly to his car shouting "Eureka!". Microsoft stock finished up 1/4 to land at 26.30.

  • Worms (Score:2, Funny)

    by RucasRiot ( 773111 )
    Betcha that Microsoft apple gets attacked by a lot of worms called Sasser. Blue Seeds of Death?
  • Read the article... (Score:5, Informative)

    by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:52PM (#9070151)
    Read the article folks, it was a mistake.

    A Microsoft representative confirmed that the assigning of the patent to the company was a mistake..

    The article does go on to discuss the huge inventory of legitimate tech patents that Microsoft has and how they plan to license more of same.

    But the software giant has been a prolific patent generator in other areas. The company embarked on a campaign late last year to generate more revenue from its patent portfolio, offering to license widely used inventions such as its ClearType font technology and FAT storage format.

    I think that the writer thought "Microsoft patenting Apple" was a humorous intro to Microsofts rather deep pile of patents.

    Happy Trails!


  • "Apple patented by Microsoft."
    "sold commercially as the 'Adams Apple'"

    We need some more, like...
    "Just some more worms for Microsoft"
    "Do they have plans for authentication?"
    "Microsoft shows the softer side of a monopoly"
    ...and so on...
  • Tsk Tsk (Score:5, Funny)

    by g3head ( 771421 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:53PM (#9070155) Homepage
    I knew the patent office was slow, but dang. April Fools day was over a month ago...
  • Apparently the apple has been mistakenly assigned to Microsoft.

    This is clearly a Microsoft plot to install their propreitary software on produce world wide.
  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:54PM (#9070160) Homepage
    Apple (AAPL) registered a patent for a new device designed to transmit radient energy from the sun from outside houses to the interior of the house, using 4 glass pieces affixed in a wooden frame. Apple calls their new development a "Window". Apple stock finished up 1/2 to wind up at 26.65
  • Kinda funny, but it highlights the stupidity of our patent system. I wonder if I should patent the mold in my shower as a lethal weapon [slashdot.org]. Perhaps I'll name it SporediferousBillGatesium.
  • Apple Tree? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ejaw5 ( 570071 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:55PM (#9070165)
    What kind of (tree based) data structure is this? How would one go about making it AVL? ...and I thought B-Tree was bad.
  • Steve Jobs must be very, very, relieved.
  • by statusbar ( 314703 ) <jeffk@statusbar.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:59PM (#9070189) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft has filed with the Patent Office for a certificate of correction to re-assign the patent to Burchinal, the representative said.

    Why should Microsoft have to file a certificate of correction? The process is wrong - What if Microsoft decided 'Hey, we are going to keep the patent. You just try to take it back'. It is the patent office's mistake.

    <tinfoilhat place="on">What if the copies of Microsoft Office that were sold to the Patent Office were given a hidden feature of inserting Microsoft into patents that matched specific keywords?</tinfoilhat>


  • by J Nny ( 678075 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:59PM (#9070190)
    Hmmm....Adam's apple, the apple taken from the tree of wisdom. Joy. Just remember, God hath commanded that all ye who tasteth of the forbidden fruit be condemned to hell. Say hi to Billy when you get there.
  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:00PM (#9070195) Homepage Journal

    Said an unnamed representative from the USPTO, "Oops, sorry, that one was supposed to go to Monsanto. Honestly, keeping track of evil amoral corporations these days is a real Pain-in-the-Ass(R)."


  • by chrispyman ( 710460 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:01PM (#9070210)
    First SCO says it owns Linux, then Microsoft says it owns Apple... oh the horror!
  • by RabidChicken ( 684107 ) <andrew AT andrewstuckey DOT com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:05PM (#9070221) Homepage
    This is exactly why we should take a serious look at whether the United States should have a patent office at all.
    The original concept of the patent system was fine in an era or rural agriculture and home shops. The economics of Perfect Competition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_competition) required something governmental to effectively reward the researcher.

    Today that is quite different.

    The small, lone inventor is now a myth because 1) research on technical things (Software Patents aside, those are just bad period.) is done now by large universities and businesses who only can license other technologies and pay the research. 2) the patent application system is prohibitively expensive for any small player. Furthermore, so many applications are filed a year, the office spends about 17 hours an application. 17 hours is not enough to have a generally education person (not even necessarily someone in the field) to take a serious look at the invention. The only way one can compete with a patent is through cross-licensing one technology for another which allows the companies in competition to produce the same product. That makes the patent system moot to all but those entering the market, who get screwed.

    The argument goes on, but for the sake of briefness I'll cut it off there at a gross generalization.

    Why, for the sake of God's Green Earth, can anybody claim a patent on something that has grown in the ground, DISCOVERED (not invented), and not researched. I don't care, quite frankly, who discovered it, I want to know if there was any human invention in its creation. If there isn't, the patent system has failed on a fundamental level because it's. Not. An. Invention.

    Are there any nations with sane copyright, patent, and other laws?
    • In fact, why have laws? We all know that if everything was legal, people wouldn't riot or steal. The legal system is a remnant of a time when society was used to opression. *inhales deeply from patented herb*
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:07PM (#9070227)
    It'll be Burchinal Red Delicious version 3.1 before you'd want to bake a pie with one.
  • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:07PM (#9070232) Homepage
    apparently they object Microsoft cannot use the name apple to identify the tree and/or the fruits of the tree.

    Rumors are going wild about Microsoft thinking seriously to throw the towel and rename it's invention Aspire.

  • dispute! (Score:5, Funny)

    by potpie ( 706881 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:13PM (#9070257) Journal
    I would like to contest that it was I and I alone who invented the apple tree and as such I will be suing.
  • How the hell? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nihilogos ( 87025 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:17PM (#9070278)
    Do you get a patent on flora by finding it growing in a field?
    • Re:How the hell? (Score:5, Informative)

      by crem_d_genes ( 726860 ) * on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:37PM (#9070386)
      Like this... [original-r...icious.com]

      Almost all apple seeds will bear crab apples if planted, so a tree that bears edible fruit in the wild is truly unique. Orchard trees are grafts, usually they have a crab root (or another suitable apple tree) and the fruiting portion is whatever type is desired. Very few apple trees self pollinate so crab apples(which stay in bloom longer), or other varieties that are in bloom at the same time as the variety planted are needed nearby. All that's needed to finish the mix is a healthy hive of bees.
  • But subscribers can read it early [fark.com].
  • by azuroff ( 318072 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:22PM (#9070308)
    ...but then I got hungry.
  • Am I the only one who finds prominent adam's apples (the one on your throat) unsettling? As a name for a food, it strikes me as utterly unappealing. Even more unappealing than Red Delicious apples normally are.
  • by GoClick ( 775762 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:33PM (#9070353)
    With 800,000,000 patents day they just assume it's for MS and then sort it out after, it actually saves money that way.
  • Asuming these apples are good and delicious, I guess Microsoft can now say "So get a mac, We invented what make apples good"

    As if it must be some marketing ploy.
  • Assignation? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ziani ( 255157 )
    Apparently, the assignation of the patent to Microsoft was an error.

    So there's a twist to the tryst?

    Perhaps you meant assignment.
    • Re:Assignation? (Score:3, Informative)

      by omega_cubed ( 219519 )
      No no no!

      Assignation here is Legalese for the transfer of rights or property, so the poster and the article are using the word in its correct meaning. cf. Oxford English Dictionary (funny, None of the online dictionaries that I know of actually show this meaning besides the OED, which requires an institutional license for access).
  • Assignation (Score:2, Funny)

    by DaoudaW ( 533025 )
    I RTFMed, but I haven't a clue what assignation is being discussed. But it would be like the folks at Redmond to deny it. Hell, even Clinton denied his assignation.
  • by dedazo ( 737510 )
    Lawyers for the embattled Utah-based corporation did not confirm rumors that they intend to sue Microsoft over their patent of a rare type of apple. However, SCO's lead counsel was quoted as saying "our status as the original bad seed will not be undermined by these old fruits".

    Stay tuned.

  • we should have patented atoms or quarks when they were firsn discovered. Talk about monopoly!
  • Warning! (Score:3, Funny)

    by lemsip ( 59349 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:14AM (#9070557) Homepage
    Beware - I've heard that eating Microsoft apples leads to endless core dumps...
  • Prior Art (Score:2, Funny)

    by syusuf ( 91554 )
    I think God has prior art on this one..
  • Before you get into bed with a company, first check to see if it has an Adam's apple. If so, choose an alternative.
  • Worms... (Score:5, Funny)

    by JonnyQabbala ( 708096 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:42AM (#9070674)
    Maybe they gave the patent to Microsoft because they both attract worms?

    Oh Come on, at least I didnt say "Imagine a beowolf cluster of these"

  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:45AM (#9070687)

    Trees v2.0
    by Joyce Kilmer

    I think that I shall never see
    A poem as lovely as a patented tree.

    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

    A tree that looks to God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

    A tree that may in summer wear
    A nest of Adams Apples [TM] in her hair;

    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.

    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only inventors can make a tree.
  • by vandan ( 151516 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @02:00AM (#9070998) Homepage
    Life forms should NEVER be patented.
    This includes whole species, DNA strands, theoretical life forms, THE LOT.

    Companies have NO RIGHT to be patenting life itself, which should be held sacred above all else, for philosophical, ecological and societal reasons.

    THAT MEANS YOU, MONSANTO! [corporatewatch.org.uk]
  • assignation (Score:5, Funny)

    by crmartin ( 98227 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @08:53AM (#9072338)
    I don't think that word means what you think it means.
  • by shplorb ( 24647 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:49AM (#9072754) Homepage Journal
    Here in Australia you don't patent plant varieties, you obtain Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) basically it's the same thing. It protects the horticulturalist who came up with the plant from others breeding the plant without permission and without paying royalties.

    I read a comment here that you shouldn't be able to do this to plants that were not interbred - plants that grew in nature. What would you say about what happened in our (my family runs a production nursery) place - my late grandfather discovered a mutant plant that had an advantage over what was currently being grown. It was the only one in the lot. Should we have not been able to get PBR on that?

    What happened with that plant occurs often in nature, however it rarely gets a chance to be propagated. The plants are all grafted, and it just so happened that this one was a sport (a mutated bud). In the wild, plants do not get grafted. Humans graft trees because it allows us to maintain consistency and grow a plant with certain characteristics as the choice of rootstock has a bearing on how the plant grows and what conditions it can grow in. If you take two plants and cross-pollinate them, the plants that grow from the resulting seeds will all be genetically different - just like humans having babies.

    But back to the PBR debate. As you may guess, it takes many years to develop or discover new varieties of plants - it is a very labour intensive and drawn-out process inherent with risks. Should a plant breeder not be afforded protection from unscrupulous operators moving in on his new variety and flooding the market to make a quick buck?

    For those that are interested, that mutant plant that my grandfather found was a Kaffir Lime. When we brought the Kaffir to Australia we could only obtain a very limited amount of budwood. We were under an agreement that we could not sell them for a few years whilst we ramped up production (using budwood from the previous years' lot for the next years lot.) because they were a tree that was in such demand that other nurserys would have bought the trees and propagated them, which would have denied the originator their royalties. The variety we grew was the best one to use for cooking - it had an extremely high concentration of volatile oils in the leaves - only problem was that it had big bastard thorns and the damn trees would scratch your arms to shreds (even through a jumper) when handling them. The mutant we found was the same, except it had no thorns! After keeping that tree under lock and key and giving it lots of TLC we took budwood and propagated it, repeating the process over a few years until we had enough to replace the volume of the original variety. The other main variety of Kaffir Lime sold in Australia is a fast-growing variety with large, light leaves and no thorns - only problem is that there's no flavour in the leaves. Go into an Asian grocery store and look at the Kaffir Lime leaves - they're all like the sort that we grow.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll