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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Story Line Patent

   
Author Topic: Story Line Patent
Christine
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http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2005/11/emw303435.htm
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Elan
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Too bad he got a patent on such a doofus storyline...

It's a frightening thought, however. Are we going to end up with corporations owning plot premises, like: hero meets, falls in love, conquers galactic evil?


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wetwilly
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Yeah, everybody is going to be rushing to steal that one.
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pantros
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there is always the non-obviousness clause. The plot must not be something that people could concieve with no effort.

So the traditional simple plots are safe either because they are obvious or because they have already been done so many times that no living person could claim credit as the inventor.

Its like trying to patent fire or the wheel.

For the truly creative plot, the patent is a good thing. But then again all someone needs to do to get around your patent is prove that someone, somewhere wrote a similar plot before you.


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Robyn_Hood
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This sounds like the lazy\untalented man's way to try and make a buck.

He can't or won't actually write the story because he either doesn't want to put in the effort required to write the story, revise it and publish it, or, he lacks the actual writing skills to do so.


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Christine
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Thank you, Robyn_Hood...I was beginning to wonder if I was the only person to have that reaction. What a terrible way to exploit the holes in the law for personal gain.
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Robyn_Hood
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Just think if he had spent the last three years writing, revising and shopping his story around. Instead of three lost years, lost money (pantenting something isn't cheap) and still no actual patent number, he might have had a publishing credit or have sold the script or movie rights.

There is one way to "invent" a story and that is to write it.

If he lacked the skill to write the actual story, he could have sought out a ghostwriter, gotten the damn thing copyrighted and had it published. All that would probably be cheaper (both time and money wise) than his current approach.

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited November 04, 2005).]


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Leaf II
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Oh lord.... I pray that this guy doesn't start a whole stupid movement with this, and I gotta go and plot-patent all my stories just to be safe from every moron trying to make some money, making life harder for writers. I want to punch this guy in the face.
Also, I would like to sue this guy for such a horrible plot. His case is extra stupid.. why can't mine be?
Anyone with me on that? Cuz it'll probably be expensive....

(OMG... The Zombie Stare!!!??? pppffff)

[This message has been edited by Leaf II (edited November 04, 2005).]


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Crotalus@work
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I wish someone would write the damn story. Well enough for it to get published, make a lot of money, and then get made into a movie. And then let this stupid thing be fought over in the courts. I bet/hope he would lose.
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Liadan
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I'll bet Lewis Perdue wished he could have patented Daughter of God from Dan Brown.

Oh well, I hope it doesn't become the latest craze.

Liadan


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JmariC
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Silly question, I know, but I'm at work and my brain is muddled;

Isn't there a rule about patenting versus copyright?

Something about can't do one if it's covered by the other?


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nimnix
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There has to be a rule against patenting useless drivel. What happened to patenting things that were a benefit to society, not a curse? And why bother patenting a plot? If he's going to write it, it'll be protected when he's done. If not, then he's just another useless steaming pile taking valuable time and money away from everyone else.

It'd be funny if someone wrote a novel about it before his patent went through.


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wbriggs
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A patent may be granted for a new, useful, and non-obvious process or product. A story line isn't a process or a product; that should be enough to kill it.

And if it weren't for the existence of software patents (which patent non-new, obvious things that are only tangentially processes and not products at all), I wouldn't worry. Since the courts are insane, I would.


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Robyn_Hood
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It's been a while since I read up on any patent law (and being Canadian, it's a bit different up here), but isn't there something about not being able to patent ideas? It isn't enough to have the idea for something, you have to have an actual product. Is a plot a product, or an idea? I would say it's an idea. The story is the product. There is a bit of a grey area of intellectual property, maybe he's trying to use a loop-hole in there or something...

[Ack, Simul-post! Guess Briggs and I are thinking of the same thing.]

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited November 04, 2005).]


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pantros
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I expect the patent to be rejected as well.

Too ambiguous.


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franc li
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The great thing is that once something is patented, it is a simple matter of making a variation on it different enough that a significant benefit is derived. So if the story is rewritten, but the school is now Juliard, I could get a separate patent for that, I believe. Or if the intervening years were spent not in a normal life, but in a life of organized crime. Or if instead of being a guy, I was a really hot lady. Etc. Once you patent something, the closer subsequent inventions are to it the easier they are to obtain a patent on. Personally, though, I would be really disinterested in such a result for this particular story. Maybe. I really like the show "Groundhog Day" and I had a greater than passing interest in "Sliding Doors". But this plotline sounds like kind of the opposit of "Groundhog Day." Sort of more like "Peggy Sue got Married". Which was supposed to be like "It's a wonderful life." "The Family Man"... that was more like the Peggy Sue than than IAWL.

But I have a near religious devotion to "Groundhog day", and many people seem to feel that way about IAWL. For me, IAWL has become like the tune the child is banging out on the piano during IAWL.

I liked "Regarding Henry". I can't remember any movies about amnesia prior to that [ba-da-bing].

[This message has been edited by franc li (edited November 04, 2005).]


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whiteboy
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Actually, I was thinking of Rip Van Winkle when I read the storyline.

The problem is that most storylines have already been used in some way or another. If this passes, it would set a dangerous precedent. If you can patent a storyline, can you patent an idea?

This is just too absurd for my taste.


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luapc
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Don't be so sure that this won't go through. Ideas can and have been patented, and you can blame the internet and computer software for the change. It first happened with the internet with Amazon.com's 1-click patent which most people agree was ludicrous, but still went through. That was in 1997 and changed every on-line shopping cart in the world but Amazon's, and was based completely on existing technology, not really unique at all.

This seems even more ludicrous to me. I would hope that since the actual story hasn't been writen, that it will fail, but who knows? And if that is the only reason for it to fail, then sooner or later someone will actually write a story and then patent the plot to it.

What a crazy world if this goes through!


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Corky
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It's been done.

13 Going on 30 with Jennifer Garner.


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franc li
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Rip Van Winkle. Of course.

Now I think that if you use a story as a tool to achieve a particular end, that could be patentable. Like Scheharizade could patent the 1,001 Knights as a device for keeping your misogyinistic pig husband from killing you.

I loved the footnote when he decides not to kill her, and by they way she had borne him 3 sons in the meantime...

P.S. I saw 13 going on 30, but it didn't really do a lot for me.

[This message has been edited by franc li (edited November 04, 2005).]


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Robyn_Hood
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I wondered about "13 going on 30" but, as I never saw it, I wasn't sure if it was the same thing.

Person makes a wish that something will happen, it does, they miss out on their life and when they finally "come to" they try to piece everything together that they missed out on.

A question to ask with the plot patent: where do you draw the line between story idea and plot?


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Lord Darkstorm
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I wish they would do away with the "idea" pattents. Being a programmer I know that most programmers [i]borrow[/] ideas all the time. I remember some company got an idea pattent that was pretty much pattening java. Out of curiosity I checked out thier site and discovered they hadn't actually created anyting other than a pattent.

The pattent office is understaffed, and looking at some of the goofy pattents that they do allow through, makes it clear that too many of them don't know what half of the pattents really are.

I would rather not see another venue for law suits in the future, we have more than enough now.

I agree, the guy should just write the story. Since his pattent exists I guess it is safe to assume he can't write it.

Just one more bit of stupidity we might have to deal with.


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apeiron
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Thanks for posting this, Christine, I got a good laugh. (It may turn to tears if this actually goes through.)

I say take pity on the poor guy. He did Course 16 at MIT which can only mean one thing--he couldn't write the actual story if he tried. The place gives you right brain rot. 'Prays to remain asleep until he gets his MIT admissions letter.' Good grief.


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keldon02
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Too bad he didn't find an idea which hadn't been done. This one is a derivative of Washington Irving's 1819 story "Rip Van Winkle".
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djvdakota
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Lawyers. PFSH!
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Elan
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Oh, you brought up the topic of lawyers! Bless you, I've been looking for somewhere to share this little tidbit I picked up from Dr. Goodword's Word of the day, "Litigious." (from alphadictionary.com):

quote:
Litigious. Adjective.
Meaning: 1. Inclined to sue for the slightest reason. 2. Related to suing and law suits.

In Play: When you consider that 70% of the world's lawyers practice in the US, among only 5% of the earth's population, you can see where the reputation for litigiousness comes from.

Word History: Today's word is thinly disguised Latin litigiosus "quarrelsome," the adjective of litigium "quarrel, dispute", the noun from litigare "to quarrel." Litigare is a compound of lit- "lawsuit" + ager "to act, do," the root underlying agent and act. Of course, you already know that squat comes from this same root via Old French esquatir "to crush, squeeze out," combining es- "out" (Latin ex-) + quatir "to flatten." Quatir descended from coactus, the past participle of Latin coager "to compress". This verb is made up of co "together" plus the same verb mentioned above, ager "to act, do."


It's sort of on topic, don't you think?
I've fallen in love with my "Dr. Goodword of the Day." A couple of days ago they used the word borborygme, which is the name for the sound your stomach makes when it gurgles and growls.


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Kolona
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quote:
The great thing is that once something is patented, it is a simple matter of making a variation on it different enough that a significant benefit is derived.

So, if someone conceived an idea/wrote a story/produced a movie in which an MIT graduate patented a storyline in which "an ambitious high school senior, consumed by anticipation of college admission...." and so on, mirroring this fellow's situation, that would be enough to be a variation on the very same idea and beyond his patent's grasp.

Actually, pantros, I think his next patent is for fire. Or maybe it was for a wheel on fire.

Robyn_Hood's question seems critical: "where do you draw the line between story idea and plot?" Is a story tagline a plot or an idea? Are high concept stories especially vulnerable since they can be summed up in the fewest words? For instance, the movie, Liar, Liar: A lawyer cannot lie.

This could get ugly.


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Warbric
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He's a lawyer who's thought up an idea upon which to build his career. He's already got his site up and offering his services -- Knight & Associates. Personally, I think it's patently absurd.
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Lord Darkstorm
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The positive side of plotline pattents


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Kolona
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LOL
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Robyn_Hood
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rcorporon
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The fictitious story, which Knight dubs “The Zombie Stare,” tells of an ambitious high school senior, consumed by anticipation of college admission, who prays one night to remain unconscious until receiving his MIT admissions letter. He consciously awakes 30 years later when he finally receives the letter, lost in the mail for so many years, and discovers that, to all external observers, he has lived an apparently normal life. He desperately seeks to regain 30 years’ worth of memories lost as an unconscious philosophical zombie.


--

What a piece of junk storyline... let him keep it.

Ronnie


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