The Man-Beast Lies In His Cage, Sniffing Popcorn

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New at Reason: If Jeremy Rifkin gets his chimera patent, will you still be allowed to live like an ape man? Ron Bailey wants to know.

NEXT: Happy Holidays

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  1. As much as it pains me to say it, they may have a good legal point here.

    To 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;

    Although I don’t doubt the legal grounds of their technicalities, I don’t know that ultimately a judge or other arbiter would allow the granting of a patent whose purpose is exactly the opposite of what the patent system is supposed to do. I could be wrong, such fraudulent patents may already be in place. But on its face the claim has no merit. The patent system is meant to promote science and discovery, not create another forum for philosophical squabbles.

  2. What is the legal basis for Rifkin’s attempt to patent all chimeras? I thought patents only apply to things you yourself create. Wouldn’t this be kind of like Martha Stewart trying to patent all current and future do-it-yourself decorating ideas, as opposed to the ones Ms. Stewart herself invented?

  3. I thought that in order to be granted a patent for an invention, you had to, uh, invent the thing. As in build/make/create one. Can I apply for a patent on time traveling machines, despite the fact that I haven’t actually built one?

  4. I really like rst’s point about patents being granted to promote progress.

    As for patents on time traveling machines and so forth–as I understand it (and I am certainly no patent lawyer)a working prototype has been required in the past. However, with biotech patents, complete descriptions of how to do things have been generally accepted. So presumably, in order to get a patent on time travel machine, one would have to detail it’s complete design at least.

    Also, as I understand from patent attorneys with whom I have spoken, the Patent Office has unfortunately made the mistake of issuing very broad patents ecompassing things like just an expressed sequence tag (EST)of a gene(not even the whole gene) and all future products and uses of the gene that the EST specifies. This means that there are a lot of overlapping patents which will have to be sorted out in the future somehow.

    Finally, I don’t understand why the Patent Office just didn’t reject Newman’s patent application on the grounds that it is “obvious” and therefore does meet the originality requirement for issuing a patent.

  5. As to the chimera, if I were creating a fantastic beast to scare the kiddies with, I would probably use a lion and a dragon, but I don’t know what sort of nefarious symbolic purpose a goat serves. Its like saying “He’s the King of the Jungle! He breathes Fire! And, er, he eats garbage …”

  6. I am no expert on patent law, but I think it is fairly common for people to apply for and receive “defensive” patents which are used to block competitors from implementing similar ideas. I have heard the founder of priceline.com patented his own business model as well as several similar ones to prevent the airlines from starting their own version of priceline and cut him out of the process.

  7. If anyone cares, that’s a picture of Pan on the homepage. Not a chimera.

  8. Actually pan is a “chimera” as it is used generally today (part man, part beast). You’re thinking of the “Chimera” (lion,goat,dragon).

  9. Wow, really deep Springsteen reference for X-mas Eve. Way to go, Tim!

    F

    PS – Rifkin should get an award for most times inspiring use of the term “gadfly”.

  10. Springsteen? Be like an apeman, that’s from the Kinks, circa 1970.

    Doesn’t anybody get educated anymore, jesus.

  11. I’ve been getting a lot of spam ostensibly concerning particular applications of the chimera principle in my personal life. Perhaps the paten will cut down the amount.

  12. Obviously the patent office is in need of an overhaul. The patent office has clearly wandered away from the principles which have historically guided it and which have maintained an environment which has allowed American business and American consumers to enjoy an unprecedented level of innovation stretching over many years. It is possible that the civil servants at the patent office may have simply been overwhelmed by the pace and complexity of innovation; however, given that rich businessmen have been granted questionable patents which help them to block competitors, one cannot help but wonder what an honest investigation into potential corruption might turn up.

  13. Aw, Bruce sucked by then. Sorry.

  14. You’re really kickin’ it old school, Douglas. That’s from Bruce’s second, and IMO best, record. He started sucking not too long afterward, but afterward nonetheless.

    Sorry about the Pan pick, but the Chimera of Arezzo just didn’t look dramatic enough in a 130×130 pic. Pan was close enough for government work. And who doesn’t want to see Pan blowing his pipes on Xmas eve? Or is that just me?

  15. So if a few human stem cells can be put in a sheep when the immune system isn’t up and running, and the cells become “human” tissue (or at least human-compatible), can we get a pet sheep with a human brain? One of Gene Wilder’s roles would really like to know.

  16. Tim –

    I’ve been corrected. I have a bad habit of trying to sound like a know-it-all at the wrong time.

    Pan is appreciated, the horny goat.

  17. Wild Billy’s Circus Story by Bruce Springsteen

    The machinist climbs his ferris wheel like a brave
    And the fire eater’s lyin’ in a pool of sweat, victim of the heatwave
    Behind the tent the hired hand tightens his legs on the sword swallower’s blade
    And circus town’s on the shortwave

    The runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
    Fat lady, big mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
    And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffin’ popcorn
    As the midget licks his fingers and suffers Missy Bimbo’s scorn
    Circus town’s been born

  18. if Ronald Bailey works for a group known for being a pro-corporate mouthpiece, why the heck should we listen to him? No regulation! Corporations can regulate themselves, trust me! Heh heh! It’s ok kiddies! Theres no such thing as global warming! Go back to consuming! Can’t believe people believe this crap.

  19. if Ronald Bailey works for a group known for being a pro-corporate mouthpiece, why the heck should we listen to him? No regulation! Corporations can regulate themselves, trust me! Heh heh! It’s ok kiddies! Theres no such thing as global warming! Go back to consuming! Can’t believe people believe this crap.

  20. if Ronald Bailey works for a group known for being a pro-corporate mouthpiece, why the heck should we listen to him? No regulation! Corporations can regulate themselves, trust me! Heh heh! It’s ok kiddies! Theres no such thing as global warming! Go back to consuming! Can’t believe people believe this crap.

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