Miscellaneous Musings of Luke Shors

“Where the telescope ends the microscope begins, and who can say which has the wider vision?” - Victor Hugo


April Fool's Patent

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

Patents are granted for novel, non-obvious systems and methods. Would it be possible to patent a system for determining the likelihood that any given patent application would be granted and a patent assigned?

Before you dismiss this as tomfoolery, hear me out: So it's expensive to file a patent. And if there was a system for making an assessment of whether something might be patentable that would be a useful service. If you were considering spending thousands of dollars on a patent process, would you consider using a $9.99 service to make a pre-assessment of your patent's patentability? Maybe the system could even suggest ways to strengthen your application?

Well how would you do that in a way that was different than the way the patent office does? Could you train an AI system to evaluate patentability? You have all the granted patents. Presumably the patent office has all of the rejected/discontinued ones. If you used an evolutionary algorithm to randomly assess whether a patent was granted for a given patent and then train itself based on whether it was right over many thousands of patents, would the algorithm become adept at determining patentability akin to Alpha Go? Of course, you would include variables like date, the company behind the patent, etc. For surely having Microsoft behind the patent is worth a lot. When the system was mature, you could randomly have the system hack out paragraphs or claims for a given application and re-run the assessment. A user could then see that the inclusion of certain claims increased the chance of rejection and refine the patent application before submission.

I built this system one weekend and it performed admirably. I thought I might finally have invented something that I could retire on with my lovely family and spend some more time on a Polynesian island before they submerge beneath the rising seas. Sadly though when I tested this system against itself to see whether I should pursue a patent, it's probability of being patentable was very low. So I saved myself legal fees and decided not to pursue it further. Of course when I re-ran the simulation with Microsoft as the company behind it, the likelihood of patentability increased markedly. Maybe I could sell this system to them along with a bridge in Brooklyn. Do you think they would buy it? Remember this very publication of this idea allows me to pursue a patent on this for the next year. So hands off, ok?


About Me

"Not all those who wander are lost" - JRR Tolkinn

I think of myself (as well as aspire to be) a curious person. Curious in a book store, but also curious exploring a new city or meeting a new person. Curious in planned and unplanned moments. In an era where knowledge about the world is both vast and deep, curiosity occasionally strikes me as anathema to expertise. Or, more accurately, if you are curious, best to be curious about some very specific topic. But so far at least, that does not seem to be my path. My professional work is orientated towards start ups as well as international development.

In 2019 I decided to make a more concerted effort to write - hence this site. My blog focuses on science and technology, health research and education. My fiction is of the speculative variety - Science fiction that uses scientific ideas to explore human experiences. Thanks for reading!

People Walking


University of Iowa, BA Philosophy (2000)

Johns Hopkins, MPH (2005)

Johns Hopkins, MBA (2005)

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ed.D. (2017)


©2018 by Dr. Luke Shors