Patent Trolls In Space!

A few days ago I saw this news story. It discusses how SpaceX is challenging a patent Blue Origin has obtained on “Sea landing of space launch vehicles”.

Not only has SpaceX already carried out test landings at sea, but this concept has been detailed several times previously by other groups, including NASA and the Russian space program. So to grant a patent in this case is rather ridiculous. For a patent to be awarded, the subject is supposed to be “useful, novel and non obvious”, but these seems to be entirely absent from the Blue Origin claim.

As others who work in the IT field will know, this kind of patent troll is all too familiar. The only people to gain from this will be fat-cat patent lawyers (surprise!) who’ll undoubtedly spin this episode out as much as possible.

I would hope, given the lofty goals of both companies, that we could leave this kind of nonsense back on Earth; it’s disappointing to see people trying to take it into space. Quite honestly the U.S. patent office should be disbanded after this on grounds of sheer incompetence…

I said in a previous post that what we really need is for all the different groups to collaborate on space access for the greater good. This sorry situation falls far short of that ideal and I hope that the various parties can move beyond this quickly.

Me? I’ve got this great idea for a patent. It’s kind of a tube, filled with a propellent that goes up in the air. I think I’ll call it a “Rawk-Et”…

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