Patents, that wonderful legal process which protects inventors from having their ideas stolen, is pretty important today, and especially so in the field of technology. As something of a technology refusenik, mostly rejecting such things as Facebook (though clearly not blogs) these patents are of little interest; it is a young mans game I think.
You might imagine my surprise then to discover that not only is the head of the patent office in the USA is an 84 year old man, one James Bilington but that he recently changed the existing policy to make “unlocking” a cell phone illegal and subject to a $500,000 fine and five years in prison. Just in case you didn’t get that, I’ll say it again, a $500,000 fine and five years in prison.
Let’s just get this straight. You buy a phone on a 2year contract and at the end of that period you have one of three choices. Either to have a new contract with the same supplier, you throw the phone away, or you risk the fine/prison option, unlock the phone and go to a different carrier.
It is reckoned that there are some 30 million unlocked phones in the USA so clearly this would be good news not only for the two controllers of the cell phone business in the USA, AT&T and Verizon, but a big boost to the privatised prison system. A win win as some might say. But now OBAMA has stepped in to spoil the party siding with the 114,000 petitioners who thought this idea was bad for rest of the USA population. It looks like the policy will be overthrown.The above is 286 words. The original article of 1100 words which inspired me can be found here, if you have the time.