​Prisoners in China Can Get Out of Jail in Exchange for Patents

China absolutely dominates the rest of the world when it comes to the number of patents it produces. This is partly due to a government that encourages inventors with everything from cash gifts, tenured jobs at universities, and early release from prison. Wait, what? » 2/02/15 10:00am 2/02/15 10:00am

Cecil B. DeMille Kept a Wolf and Guns To Defend Against Edison's Thugs

Why did Southern California become the epicenter of the American film industry? The nice weather certainly helped. But there's another element that modern Hollywood probably hopes you'd forget: Rampant piracy. Even though it was just the piracy of movie camera tech rather than the Jack Sparrow variety, there were… » 1/29/15 4:15pm 1/29/15 4:15pm

Why Ikea Shutting Down Its Most Popular Fan Site Is a Giant Mistake

If you're like me, you've spent countless hours surfing IkeaHackers, where Ikea fans send in their mods and hacks. You've also probably spent money at Ikea thanks to the site, which has inspired a DIY fervor among its fans. Which is why Ikea shutting down IkeaHackers this weekend over trademark claims is beyond… » 6/16/14 12:05pm 6/16/14 12:05pm

Should Copyright Law Also Cover Hyperlinks?

The U.S. Copyright Office recently proposed a seemingly small addition to copyright law that bears some huge implications. It wants to enable copyright holders to protect unauthorized versions of their work from hyperlinks. You read that right: it could soon be illegal simply to link to certain content. » 4/10/14 10:25am 4/10/14 10:25am

7 NSA Patents: Cyber Manholes, Super-Shredders and More

The National Security Agency has access to the world's most incredibly sophisticated spy technology. But did you know that the NSA sometimes patents its own creations? » 2/14/14 9:00am 2/14/14 9:00am

Your Right to Record Movies Off TV Came 30 Years Ago Today

Today, DRM fears inspire a lot of jokes that reference George Orwell's 1984. But it was in that titular year, three decades ago today, that the U.S. Supreme Court reached a decision that defined and protected our right to record copyrighted material: Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., or the… » 1/17/14 6:00pm 1/17/14 6:00pm

3D Printing Will Let Us Copy Any Object. Can We Stop It?

3D printing and additive manufacturing may be destined to change how we make and acquire objects forever. But it's also spurring a shadow revolution—one that focuses on how to stop us from replicating. » 12/05/13 4:01pm 12/05/13 4:01pm

One Man Is Resurrecting Forgotten Patents of Yore With 3D Printing

The charms of the patent office archives—and the hilariously insane inventions they contain—are well-known. But is it possible that a few of those failed entrepreneurs were actually onto something? New York lawyer Martin Galese thinks so—and he’s resurrecting the ghosts of patents past by offering 3D models of them… » 8/05/13 4:00pm 8/05/13 4:00pm

The 100-Year-Old Charlie Chaplin Mashups That Are Lost Forever

Mashups, intellectual property laws, bootlegs, copyright. While those are all valid concerns today, they're hardly anything new. Just ask Charlie Chaplin. » 8/01/13 3:26pm 8/01/13 3:26pm

A Norse Town Has Built an Artificial Sun to Light Up Its 5-Month Night

The extreme far north (or south) isn't the only place on Earth that spends the winter locked in perpetual darkness. Beginning in September and ending in March, the Norwegian town of Rjukan is cast into a perpetual shadow. But no longer: This month, engineers are completing The Mirror Project, a system that will shed… » 7/22/13 4:00pm 7/22/13 4:00pm

Amazon Has a Patent to Sell Used Ebooks

The problem with most ebooks is you can't exactly give them with a friends or pass them onto your children when you're done. But Amazon might actually address that with a new patent to sell used ebooks. » 2/07/13 12:26pm 2/07/13 12:26pm

Apple's New Patent Adjusts an iPad's Display Size Based on How Far Away…

If you like to hold your iPad right up by next to your eyeballs because you are basically blind, you might someday have some relief. Apple has a new patent that changes the size of the display based on the distance of your face from the screen. » 11/15/12 12:46pm 11/15/12 12:46pm

You Might Unlock Google Glasses With a Simple Eye-Roll

Google has earned a patent for screen unlock that uses eye-tracking information, meaning when you finally get your hands on a pair of its augmented reality specs, you could access them with an eye roll. Just don't let your mom see you do that because she will be PISSED. » 8/07/12 11:20am 8/07/12 11:20am

Apple Just Got a Patent for a Dimension that Doesn't Even Exist Yet

Apple has just been granted a patent for 5D technology. Wait, what the hell? Has it traveled to the future and come back with something we don't know about yet? What advanced life forms are the suits in Cupertino communicating with? » 7/24/12 3:17pm 7/24/12 3:17pm

Everything That's Wrong with Patent and Copyright Laws in One Brilliant…

Patent trolls are the worst. Oh wait, no, out-of-control copyright crusaders, they're the worst. In fact, the whole intellectual property system needs a total overhaul. But why? How did it come to this? Kirby Ferguson's sublime Everything Is a Remix series comes to a conclusion with this really smart explanation of… » 2/16/12 3:12pm 2/16/12 3:12pm

Apple Wins Round Two Against Galaxy Tab in German Courts

Rule against the Galaxy Tab for patent infringement once, shame on you. Rule against the Galaxy Tab for patent infringement twice, well, that's when maybe Samsung's screwed for real. In Germany, at least. » 9/09/11 8:16am 9/09/11 8:16am

This Is Where the Patent Trolls Live

This American Life had an amazing story this past weekend about patent trolls. It was pegged to Intellectual Ventures, and various others who litigate rather than innovate. But the real patent trolls are being traded on the NYSE. » 7/26/11 4:40pm 7/26/11 4:40pm

How Are 20% of Human Genes Patented?

John Sulston, along with Sarah Chan and John Harris, write that scientific process is being stymied due to excessive ownership of scientific intellectual property. One of the more troubling statistics? Private companies have patented nearly 20% of human genes. » 6/14/11 9:20pm 6/14/11 9:20pm