I've been following Brad Feld's observations about the patent system for years now. I find myself mostly agreeing with him, even though I filed for and was awarded a patent for my first company, back in the day.
I've thought about starting Patent Holders Against Patents, but I'm a bit busy with BlogMutt these days. Also, I don't want to be known as the PHAP guy.
PHAP PHAP PHAP.
But then I saw my chance to do my part. A US Senator, Michael Bennet, went on the interwebs to try to collect opinions about what name should grace the new US Patent Office in Denver. Now, I actually think this new office is a good thing. The Patent system needs smart people working inside of it, and we have lots of smart folks here in Colorado.
(By the way, patents do have their place, especially in our history. Lincoln said that a patent system was a big part of what helped the union win the Civil War. His theory was that inventors wanted to develop new technology for the side where they thought they could make money from their inventions.)
(And for a nexus of presidents and patents trivia, the first one to name the only US President to hold a patent gets a coffee from me. Just put the name in the comments below, and be as honest as you can about if you googled it or not.)
But the idea of naming the building for Brad makes sense for lots of reasons.
- Colorado has a rich history of ironic naming. Remember that the Alferd Packer grill was originally an epithet because the food tasted a bit too... familiar. Now there's a bust of the "man-eatin' sonofabitch" in the foyer, making him look positively regal.
- Come to think of it, Feld has a certain resemblance to Packer.
- Feld himself has his own rich history of getting his name in places where much deep thinking is done.
- The idea of naming a Patent office after a patent opponent would be much like our nation's history of naming airports after people who died in airplane crashes -- though I'm pretty sure that Denver International Airport is not named for John Denver.
- This whole thing reminds me of the song Gonna Put My Face on a Nuclear Bomb, but I'm not sure why.
- And most importantly: It may prompt some kind of actual discussion about how the Patent system should evolve.
Now, I'm not crazy. There's zero chance this will actually happen. I think the Feds will be too timid to even name it after Nikola Tesla, even though Colorado played a critical part in the science behind every single act of plugging a cord into a wall to get electricity to a device.
The fact that Tesla feuded with Edison should help his case, but probably won't. The fact that he was probably gay, well, that could go either way. AC/DC. The fact that the coolest entrepreneur on the planet these days recognized his genius when naming his car company will probably hurt, as GM, et. al. seem to use the government to thwart actual competition.
Pueblo native David Packer would be a good choice, except that it pisses me off that I have to pay more per ounce for ink than I do for 30-year-old Scotch.
Woz would be another great choice, but it seems unlikely after his ignominious exit from the University of Colorado. (The story I heard, which may be apocryphal, is that he hacked the regents computer system so when the workers came in one Monday morning all the printers had run out of paper exhausted from printing expletives all weekend.)
So, in the great spirit of the internets, I encourage you to do the needful: vote for Brad Feld's name to be inscribed on the USPTO office in Denver, Colorado.