kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Nov 21 03:10:13 EST 2005
I just looked up my English dictionary, wherein the first
definition for "patent" is a document open to public
examination, as opposed to a secret. It was a public
document whereby others were enjoined from copying
the idea until a certain period had passed.
By extension, it then refers to the legal protection
provided by such documentation (e.g. "violate a patent").
What you are confusing is the document itself, and the
legal requirements set up for awarding a patent. If an
idea is obvious, other people will violate that patent
inadvertently. (One of the problems with modern patents
is that so many of them are obvious: someone takes a
known practice and somehow using a computer or the
internet to do the same action is patentable (worthy of
receiving that legal document open to public scrutiny)?
Such actions are obvious to those in the field hence
such patents (legal prohibitions connected with the
documents) are often inadvertently violated.)
Therefore, at least for patent, the etymology does work for
understanding the term. Not perfectly, but the connection
can be seen.
Karl W. Randolph.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dr. Joel M. Hoffman" <joel at exc.com>
> >> One example I often use in discussing etymology is the English word
> >> "patently." By definition, a "patent" must be non-obvious.
> > On the contrary, Joel. The original meaning of "patent" is "Obvious; [...]
> That's interesting, and it reinforces my point. If "patent"
> originally meant "obvious," that etymological bit of knowledge helps
> not at all in deducing that in the US today, a "patent" is awarded
> only for something that's not obvious.
> Really, don't we all agree here that etymology doesn't tell you what a
> word means?
> -Joel M. Hoffman
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