bunsnip (at) gmail (dot com)

Friday, December 7, 2007

My brilliant invention: the tea globe

Since I'm better at making good-tasting tea than coffee, and since I haven't been making my usual morning run to Caffe Niche for a latte, I've been making a lot of tea at work lately. I use a Bodum french press to brew loose tea leaves. And the other day, as I watched my tea leaves swirling around the cylindrical glass chamber of the Bodum, thinking about how much they resembled the motion of those little styrofoam pieces in a snow globe, genius struck: tea globes!

Imagine a globe depicting a fall scene. You add hot water and tea leaves and then enjoy the delightful swirling of leaves around the tea globe while waiting for your tea to brew. There could even be little mechanical leaf rakers to rake up and bag your tea leaves for you (suckas!), so that all you have to do is add sugar or milk and drink your tea straight from the globe. Oh yes, it's brilliant.

Well, Ian didn't think it was so brilliant when I told him of my plan to get us rich. And he's right: it's stupid. But it might just be stupid enough that people would spend money on it.

Even so, instead of spending the egregious amounts of money to obtain and maintain patent rights, I'm going to take the cheap way out and instead prevent other people from obtaining patent rights by first publishing the invention here. All published materials can be used against patent applications as "prior art", and I believe this blog will apply. Possibly.

Of course, seeing as how it seems that patents for almost every conceivable invention have at one time or another already been applied for, it's very possible that tea globes are already out there. There are nearly no novel ideas left in the world, methinks.

Which is why I don't think too kindly on the patent business in general, now that I've been working in it. It is ungodly expensive to get a patent. And even more ungodly expensive to exert your patent rights against potential infringers (which is basically the only thing patent rights give you -- offensive rights against anyone else who wants to profit off your invention, so basically it gives you grounds to sue people).

Furthermore, many patents are essentially useless. (Take for instance the patent protecting a method of exercising a cat or dog using a laser pointer. How the hell are you supposed to enforce that? "Um, excuse me, I see that you are using a laser pointer to play with your cat. Well, I'm afraid I have patented that method, and so you're going to have to compensate me for all the financial gain that you have made in using this method...." Right.... )

Personally, I don't think patents are worth the money and trouble, especially if you are a single patent owner, and not a large firm. Firms can afford both to obtain patent rights and to enforce them. But if you're an average joe inventor, there's really no use in bothering, unless you know you can sell or license the patent to a large firm.

Finally, I'm actually a believer in sharing the wealth as far as technology is concerned, particularly in DNA and pharmaceutics (yeah, you can patent DNA sequences). These things are supposed to be for the furtherment of human understanding and health. And thus I think they should belong to a common knowledge domain, and not private money-making domain. Even if patent rights do only last 20 years from the date of application, I still think things like this ought to belong to everybody.

And even though tea globes belong in the category of things that ought to be protected by the brilliant conceptualizers, I wish to share the love of tea globes with the world.

Subscribe to Bunsnip


Sarahbellum said...

Mmmm... now I'm craving Niche.

Sra said...

Yes, in truth, so am I. I have been neglecting my favorite coffee shop lately. :(

Sra said...

Yes, in truth, so am I. I have been neglecting my favorite coffee shop lately. :(

Post a Comment