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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 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 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?
  • 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 Fritzed ( 634646 ) <Fritzed@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @02:46AM (#9071163) Homepage
    I have to strongly disagree with you. Companies that genetically engineer or selectively breed plants spend a lot of money to do so. As with pharmaceutical companies, patents are necessary to pay for the recearch and effort that they have put in. I do, however, believe that this type of patent should have a short life span (3 years maybe).

    -> Fritz
  • by skiman1979 ( 725635 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @08:50AM (#9072324)
    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)
    The text above requires that you invent (or discover) AND asexually reproduce a distinct and NEW variety of plant in order to get a patent on said plant. You can't just find a new plant in a forest and say "I know what that is, no one else does, so give me a patent." The way I see it, you have to discover a way to create a new variety of plant, and actually create it through asexual reproduction in order to get a patent. Then you wouldn't get a patent on the apple tree, but one on the apple tree with thorns.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.