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Storyline and fashion patents

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Film, literature, and fashion are examples of innovative fields where ideas cannot be patented. (Another article descibes how software innovation also happens without patents.)



The complete lack of patents for storylines and the centuries of innovation in story writing provide proof that patents are not necessary for innovation or investment of effort. Patents are not "necessary" for innovation at all, as innovation was present long before, and in the absence of, state enforced patent monopolies. However, the purpose of the patent system is to incentivize innovation. Thus, we might speculate if storyline patents may increase the rate of storyline innovation. This possibility, however, is doubtful and very likely unconstitutional in major patent producing nations like the US. For example, such patents would upset the idea/expression dichotomy because patents cover all expressions of the idea read by the claims. In the US, the Supreme Court has ruled Congress does not have the power to bind the hands of so many creators as would be the case from a copyright monopoly on ideas. Patents, if on writing, have *greater* monopoly restrictions as do copyrights (eg, because independent invention and fair use generally are not recognized) for what amounts to a lengthy period of time in the productive lifetime of any writer, thus very likely running them afoul of the Supreme Court ruling. This view of a stifling effect is consistent with the belief that monopolies generally harm and with an opportunity cost proportional to the number of competitors whose hands would be bound, which, for patents on any form of writing, would be a very large number indeed. These views are also supported by a lot of research [1].

The USPTO is currently reviewing four patent applications claiming fictional storylines. (to check: See Ben D. Manevitz "What's the Story with Storyline Patents - An Argument Against the Allowance of Proposed Storyline Patents and for the Rejection of Currently Pending Storyline Patent Applications" (2006) 24 Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal 717.)


Fashion is another example. Here are some articles that explore this topic:

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