EFF's "Stupid Patent Of The Month" Aims To Raise Awareness, Public Shaming

Activist group the Electronic Frontier Foundation hates patent trolls, and now, they're using some good old fashioned public shaming to deter the onslaught.

Patent trolls, which are companies that do little more than file unnecessary patents or sue over ones already in existence, have long been an issue. Now, thanks to EFF's "Stupid Patent Of The Month", maybe the trolls will think twice before coming out from under their bridges.

According to arstechnica.com, August's inaugural "Stupid Patent Of The Month" went to US Patent No. 8,762,173, which was granted in June and titled “Method and Apparatus for Indirect Medical Consultation.” Basically, it's exactly what a doctor's secretary would do...except via computer. EFF lawyer Vera Ranieri summarized the now-patented peculiarity as follows:

"a. take a telephone call from patient
 b. record patient info in a patient file
 c. send patient information to a doctor, ask the doctor if she wants to talk to the patient
 d. call the patient back and transfer the call to the doctor
 e. record the call
 f. add the recorded call to the patient file and send to doctor
 g. do steps a–f with a computer"

Step "g" was the one that made the patent valid. So yeah...not exactly as innovative as laying claim to the lightbulb or wireless router.

In case the patent-powers-that-be missed the point, Ranieri concluded her analysis by explaining, "This is a stupid patent...Somehow, something that wasn't patentable became patentable just by saying 'do it with a computer.'"

EFF's "Stupid Patent Of The Month" is augmented by their 10-year "Patent Busting Project", which is still in effect and aims to revoke patents so ridiculous that they are wanted for "crimes against the public domain." So before you go trying to patent your signature new method of tying your sneakers or taking selfies while posing with iguanas or whatever, just remember the EFF may (rightfully) call you out.

(Just kidding, EFF.)


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