In physics and optics, the Fraunhofer lines are a set of spectral lines named for the German physicist Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787â€“1826). The lines were originally observed as dark features (absorption lines) in the optical spectrum of the Sun.
The English chemist William Hyde Wollaston was in 1802 the first person to note the appearance of a number of dark features in the solar spectrum. In 1814, Fraunhofer independently rediscovered the lines and began a systematic study and careful measurement of the wavelength of these features. In all, he mapped over 570 lines, and designated the principal features with the letters A through K, and weaker lines with other letters.
A set of dark features in the optical spectrum of the Sun.
A set of 574 dark features identified by Joseph von Fraunhofer.
The same Fraunhofer after whom a certain Fraunhofer Society was named.
The same Fraunhofer Society who invented MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, commonly referred to as MP3.
The same MP3 patents at the heart of the Microsoft/Alcatel-Lucent patent lawsuit.
“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today…A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose.”
The same patent system that allows patents like this one:
|United States Patent Application||20060259306|
|Roberts; Timothy Wace||November 16, 2006|
Business method protecting jokes
The specification describes a method of protecting jokes by filing patent applications therefor, and gives examples of novel jokes to be thus protected. Specific jokes to be protected by the process of the invention include stories about animals playing ball-games, in which alliteration is used in the punch-line; a scheme for raising money for charity by providing dogs for carriage by Underground passengers; and the joke that consists in filing a patent application to protect jokes. A novel type of patent application, one that claims itself, and hence is termed `homoproprietary`, is disclosed.
Sean asked me what I thought of the Microsoft versus Alcatel-Lucent spat. Something I’ve been thinking about for a while. So what’s my answer?
Sean, I feel sad. I think we’re heading for a period of more and more intense patent lawsuits as the system crumbles under its own weight. I think we’re already at a stage where companies genuinely believe they have to have a bunch of patents in their armoury, in order to do battle with other companies with other patents in other armouries. I think we’ve already gone past the offensive/defensive/frivolous stage, we now have creatures like cross-patents and even self-referential ones.
I think there are people around who would prefer to employ patents rather than people.
And I think creativity will suffer as a result of all this. For a while.
As long as we have sets of dark features obscuring the Sun of our creativity, dark features that make up our broken patent system.