John Oliver: patents are basically “dibs”

John Oliver, of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” referred to a patent as, “basically legally-binding dibs.”

Strictly speaking, if “dibs” means, “I declare that I am first to say this, and because I’ve told everyone, everybody understands what I said, and now the rest of you can’t have it,” then he’s “basically” right.” It’s akin to saying: “Nyeah, nyeah, you can’t have it!” It is dibs.

Patents exist in order to forward the state of society. With a 20 year lag, anyway. Society has to wait 20 years because, in exchange for telling teaching the public precisely how to make or do something useful, the patent owner is granted a 20 year period in which they can then, paradoxically, prevent anyone in the public from making or doing what they just taught.  Only those who possess rights under the patent, either by assignment or license, are permitted to practice the invention. However, to get a patent, you need skills. You need to be able to disclose, and adequately explain, everything which an applicant has a legitimate claim to be the product of his genius.

It is a high bar to live up-to.