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Sunday, November 26, 2006

In search of the non-obvious

On Tuesday the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on what should be considered obvious when older inventions are combined for a patent application. Lining up on the side of loosening standards are Microsoft, Intel and other companies that have sprung up more recently. Opposing them are companies like General Electric that hold strong patent positions. See detail on this case -- KSR versus Telefex -- at CNET news. All of you scientists and engineers working in the USA had better keep an eye out on this war in court. It may cause quite a shakeup in the aims of R&D.

Meanwhile, at a more personal level, many of us will be looking for that perfect gift for the person who already owns everything. Obviously it must be something that is not obvious. For example, how about Smittens -- specialty mittens that allow you to hold hands while walking or sitting? I saw this featured in one of humorist Dave Barry's gift guides. His 2006 recommendations came out today in the Miami Herald column "What's behind Santa's Ho-Ho-Ho". If I had season tickets to a team that supported tailgaters, I'd ask Santa for a Cruzin Cooler. How about two coolers for your favorite couple, one for him and the other for her, along with a set of Smittens for them to cruise hand-in-hand around the parking lot?


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