He waited patently in the wings

A fragment and footnotes from a work in progress (still)

Unaware that it had expired, Habib attempted to write a story that did not infringe the patent on plots. As you may know, the claims read –

1. A story comprising at least one plot device selected from the group consisting of: boy meets girl, stranger comes to town, boy loses girl, hero goes on a journey, boy regains girl, and man hunts whale.

2. The story of claim 1 in which Hamlet’s father’s ghost sets off an unfortunate chain of events.

An abstract of his story would read along the lines of, “Stranger comes to town where he meets girl and boy. Girl and boy lose stranger but his ghost sends them whale hunting for his father.”

Bibi’s English teacher, Mr. Bell, had a reputation for rousing sleeping students by slamming a large book onto their desk and bellowing, “Tired students die more easily!” His response to the story was scribbled at the bottom in red pen, “Obvious. I anticipated the ending, as have many before me. Your handwriting and spelling are atroceous.” For good measure he had added his initials with a florid swirl that appeared to say, “Jesus.”

The footnotes:

Claim one is written as a Markush claim, a form named for the inventor Eugene Markush who first used it in US patents from 1920 to 1940.

Patents are invalid if they are either anticipated or obvious.

The sleep research unit at Loughborough University in the UK carried out studies that helped identify sleep related road crashes, and led to the ‘Tiredness can kill – take a break’ signs for British motorways.

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About Ian Whatley

Ian Whatley -- British born, bred, educated, and then deported. His fiction has been published in The Legendary, Lost and Found Times, 3S and so on and so on and...

Posted on September 16, 2010, in Ian W and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Silly me, you can’t depend a claim from a Markush claim. The correct form would be to make claim two an independent claim such as,

    Claim 2. A story comprising Hamlet’s father’s ghost wherein said Hamlet’s father’s ghost sets off an unfortunate chain of events, and further comprising at least one plot device selected from the group consisting of: boy meets girl, stranger comes to town, boy loses girl, hero goes on a journey, boy regains girl, and man hunts whale.

    Now you see why patents are not generally a source of great humor.

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