making a sandwich

sam waterston is getting ready to rip your still beating heart from your chest, then he's going to go do some lawyer stuff

sam waterston is getting ready to rip your still beating heart from your chest, then he's going to go do some lawyer stuff

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I don’t even pretend to be one, except after watching law & order marathons where I shout “I object!!” at people and that one time I asked my girlfriend if I could treat my dog Harvey as a hostile witness in the case of me vs. whoever pooped on the floor.

I want you to close your eyes (but don’t actually because then you can’t read this). Imagine a world, a terrible world much like the one we live in, but lacking a certain invention, the sandwich. A time-traveling goat went back in time to the 18th Century and decided to kick John Montagu straight in the temple before he could ever ask for “meat tucked between two pieces of bread.” The world never got the grand invention of the sandwich, humanity’s suffering was unbearable.

Then one day as I’m eating a large pile of cold cuts while blogging and I notice that my fingers, slick with deli meat residue, keep slipping off the keys and the hilarious and witty things I wish to share are being turned into unreadable drivel. Spying the bread I keep handy to fend off attack from a flock of pigeons, the feathered rats of the sky, I have a sudden moment of inspiration. I place some bologna between two pieces of white bread and invent, the sandwich!

Being an enterprising young man I decide that this “sandwich” I’ve invented is quite the big deal, I decide that I should patent it and live the rest of my days fat and happy off the profit. I write up the vaguely named “Methodology for encasement of edible substances within grain derived substrate” and submit it to the US Patent Office. Then I show family and friends alike the delicious culinary brilliance that is me and my new “sandwich” to hearty congratulations and spontaneous ticker tape parades.

Then the darkness comes, swift in the night like a badger attempting to steal your young. An evil so despised that merely typing his name brings a cold sweat to my brow and a burning desire to my punch-him-in-the-face-center of my brain. Jared Fogle.

his evil can not be contained

his evil can not be contained

Mr. Fogle decides that this sandwich is big money and so takes my idea and open up a sandwich shop where people can buy a foot long sub sandwhich for $5. He begins pulling in big bucks, soon others join in on the fun and profit, Wendy’s starts putting their signature square patties between buns, McDonald’s hamburg style hand-steaks become “hamburgers” with the addition of a bun, even chipotle starts packing their rice and meat piles in a wrap they call a tortilla. The last straw though is one day, walking down the street, I encounter a young child skipping off to school, after roughing him up and taking his lunch, what do I find?!? A Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich!?!?! Where is my royalty check you freckled bastard?!

“I invented the sandwich!!” I scream in my head, and then out-loud to the young lad’s startled mother. With a “harumph” I head back to my home, stewing with anger. When I arrive I find a letter from the US Patent Office, after 4 long years of waiting, my patent, “Methodology for encasement of edible substances within grain derived substrate” has been approved. A low rumble of laughter begins deep in my belly and it becomes a diabolical cackle emanating with an other-worldly resonance from my maniacal grin, as I pull out my cell phone and begin to dial my lawyer.

PB & Patent Infrigement

PB & Patent Infrigement

The lawsuit with Mr. Fogle’s Subway sandwich shop is long and arduous, but thanks to East Texas’ interesting take on justice and patents, I’m awarded a $500 million settlement. Arguments abound about how there is prior work and talk of inevitable discovery. These are swept aside in a tidal wave of lawsuits, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Chipotle, even that freckled young lad. I begin handing out subpoenas like Tiger Woods picks up women, anytime, anyplace (zing!). My team of high powered lawyers are figuring out ways to sue people I hadn’t even dreamed of, I guess a pizza is just an open faced sandwich, sue away my pretties!

My madness grows as I become obsessed with everyone that has ever eaten a sandwich, couldn’t they see my brilliance, where are my residuals!? The populace rightly decides that I am a douche bag and I’m roundly mocked on the late night circuit. This darkens my cold heart into a black pit of vengeance, sandwich vengeance. People are wary of making sandwiches at home, what liability have they opened themselves up to? No one can rightly answer, “experts” abound on the internets claiming this or that, but the murky waters are indecipherable. The Patent Office is challenged, people roundly criticize them for allowing someone to patent such a vague and wide reaching concept. They review the patent and decide that it is in fact a fine and upstanding patent, one worthy of their seal of approval.

The nightmare of a world without sandwiches has been replaced by the new nightmare of a world where I control sandwiches.


Thank goodness though that this is not the world we live in, that such insanity would never happen in this day. Oh, fuck

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4 comments

  1. And it’s not even usual!
    Far from it – it is the norm to patent rather obvious ideas, then go out and sue everyone who’s not on a tree by three!
    Eoals’ “AJAX Patent” is just one example. It’s not only quite common sense, it also looks very much as if someone just rewrote X’s client/server concept for web-sites/browsers. Which in turn was an update on the multi-user-box/dumb-terminals paradigm of the minicomputer era.
    For another example, take Red Bend’s suing Google over Chrome’s differential update mechanism. How TF is something like that worth a patent? C’mon, this is getting ridiculous!
    Also, hot off the press: BetaNet LLC and their patent on remote software installation and registration.

    I’m gonna register a patent on ripping off productive companies and individuals, and preventing market entry of potential competitors by filing a description of an idea (“intellectual property”) at a central register and suing everyone who uses that idea, however obvious it may be. I think I’ll call it “patenting”.

  2. Thanks for writing this. What Eolas Technologies Inc. is trying to do (suing every website that uses AJAX) is the funniest thing I’ve read all week. Have you seen their company website (http://www.eolas.com/index.html)? It’s the crappiest website I’ve seen all year. I wonder if they even employ anyone who knows JavaScript.

  3. I recently wrote a blog post on this very same topic, entitled, “Persistent Folders: Or, why ideas don’t matter, and execution does”.

    http://www.pixelmonkey.org/2009/12/11/ideas-and-execution

    Snippet: “”"I recently had a discussion with another engineer after I had discussed some of the technology behind Parse.ly with him. He was surprised at how liberal I was with explaining our internal implementation, architecture, and algorithms. He asked me, “Aren’t you worried that I could steal your idea?”

    I responded, “You can steal it all you want; I dare you to try and implement it!” I then explained that to me, ideas don’t matter. I had the idea for a hundred startups that now exist before they started. I know from talking to users and customers of Parse.ly that they had our idea before we implemented it. What matters in software is not an idea, but execution of that idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen.”"”

  4. Hahaha, great post. Somehow I missed it the first time. Appreciate pointing it out Matt!

    I’ll share this with my patent loathing friends ;)

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