Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Blogging: Reading Patents

I seldom enjoy the media's coverage of technology. The media operates on principles it shares with sales, sometimes for good reason given salesmen's use of press releases. Salesmen like to say that a good salesman can sell anything. Suits, stationery, cars, houses, doesn't matter. Reporters like to think that a good reporter can write on anything. Local, religious, politics, op-ed, etc. Unfortunately this isn't actually true. Salesmen are much better at selling what they know and reporters are much better at writing what they know. And most writers don't really know technology.

But sometimes even bloggers I respect get it wrong. Whenever you see someone railing about the outrageousness of a patent, read the patent. In the case of the McDonald's sandwich patent, a quick read will demonstrate that they aren't trying to patent making a sandwich with ordinary utensils like you or I would do. What they are trying to do is patent the process and associated tools they have developed to quickly produce sandwiches in a streamlined process within the food-service industry. This won't effect you at home at all, but if the patent does go through then Quizno's or Subway might have cause for concern. McDonald's new process is probably better than what those sandwich makers currently use and by patenting it, McD's competitors can't just copy it.

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