Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dreams die hard..

Dreams are colorful, flighty balloons set adrift in the field of life..They`re made of sunshine and laughter , filled with sadness inside and tied with the thread of hope ... People yearn desperately for these bubbles .. They jump at them, flail desperately at them , trying to clutch at their strings of hope.. A lucky few catch their bubbles , they play with them , delighting in the laughter and euphoria.. Others keep trying until the thread of hope runs out..Ultimately, when the bubbles burst , as is their wont, only the sadness remains ..

All balloons are sized the same..What's different is how much they`ve been blown up..Some balloons are filled well blown their capacity, and they flop on the ground, unable to take off.. Some others are filled beyond their capacity, and they burst before they`re set adrift .. The bigger the balloon is blown the greater the surface area and hence the euphoria when they`re caught and the greater the volume and hence the sadness when they burst..

Dreams, like balloons ,have to be small enough not to burst and big enough to make them worth catching..
Dreams may fade away and dreams may die ,and the sadness they leave behind are best blown away by the winds of change..

New balloons may be made as long as the thread of Hope remains..

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pondering about patents..

" Betty bought some pretty patents, the patents were very petty , so Betty bought better patents to make the petty patents pretty "

Patent : "A grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time"

I never much thought about patents, until the day I attended a seminar by a medical enterprise, and got a Business card holder as a free gift. It was a normal, typical, plain, card holder, the only distinguishing factor being use of magnets for adhering a kind of detachable 'skin' to the case. Kind of like a cell phone cover, if you will . Now, what intrigued me was, written in not-so-small print underneath the case was "United states patent number blah blah blah " .

I`d always associated patents with mad scientists and nerds with oversized glasses and straw like hair producing innovations for the betterment of humanity , that this petty patent came as a mild shock . Especially because it wasn`t particularly innovative. I mean, consider u have a metal card holder and u want to change its appearance , what would you do then ? Intutively, you would think about sticking something on top, and considering the case is made of steel , a magnet would be a logical option.Bad news, you are now liable to be prosecuted for patent infringement.Shucks.

This kind of stuff could be especially more acute in the software industry, where more often than not, the best solution to a problem is the most intuitive one. I heard an interesting anecdote the other day about a patent filed by Oracle . Seems they developed a database updating program for a client, where after getting the voluminous input data, the program spent 1 hour of its time updating the records in the database. The catch was, during the one hour the database was being updated, you had no access to the older values, and a client wasn`t satisfied with that and asked the Oracle programmer to find a solution. Now, put yourself in the shoes of the programmer and think about how you would have solved that particular problem, before scrolling down to see the solution..

Seems, the programmer copied the older database onto another, and pointed database accesses to the copy during the 1 hour the updates were being made. After updation the pointer was moved back to the updated one and the older table was deleted. Simple, intuitive solution, and what is the next thing you do ? Go and file a patent for that solution !! This implies,if you have the same problem yourself, and its not that uncommon, and you come up with the same solution, you are again, liable to be prosecuted for patent infringement ! Again, Shucks.

Of course, Oracle would not want not likely want to waste their time sueing you, but consider you start a small firm, patent a simple process before any1 else gets there before you, wait till you find one of the big guys using the same thing, and voila, headlines the next day, "young computer prodigy sues Microsoft for patent infringement" .

You may not, of course, actually win the trial, but think of the massive publicity involved. For a small upcoming firm struggling for clients, publicity could mean a lot. Sure, it wouldn`t be ethically right, but hey dont tell me every firm which starts up has ethics over money in its mission statement.

I may have exaggerated a whole lot, and i most probably did, but still, few thoughts..

What are patents really worth ? Would you be more likely to go to a company with more patents that one which has none ? Going by that token, remember the medical company we talked abt? Could they advertise they have 2 patents just because they created a card holder and a cigarette case? Would you ask them what those patents they held were before entering into business with them ?

Lots of questions, and if any1 can answer, i`d be patently pleased :)