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Disney Tries to Patent Your Summer Vacation (even a virtual one)

OK, we have been doing this for quite sometime now with appropriate time off for good behavior, as readers of this Blog will no doubt know (both of them, including our conservator). BUT while we are routinely surprised, but rarely appalled, by the outlandish hi jinks foisted upon the public in general and the USPTO specifically by the less inhibited so-called patent professionals amongst us, we have to admit that this one by the obviously not too selfless heirs to the Magic Kingdom takes the proverbial cake.

In fact, as former undocumented but nonetheless loyal members of the Mickey Mouse Club in the gold old days, we have to believe in our heart of hearts that if he was watching down upon us from on high, that Old Uncle Walt would come crashing down to wreak havoc on the Keepers of the Kingdom to address this unbelievably crass attempt to invoke the power of the sovereign ruler of Intellectual Property rights in the gold ole USA for purposes which we have to admit are not clear to us (other than perhaps to make a buck or two).

But enough pontification on the vicissitudes of fortune or lack thereof in this case with respect to the fortune of the citizens and taxpayers of the US, not to mention the poor folks trying to scrape together enough jing to take the kids on a summer restbit to one of those overpriced venues which are continuously pumped into the kids' brains on the DISNEY CHANNEL ignoring for the present the overly intellectual and obviously family-values oriented athletes (via their customary pseudo-spontaneous parting comments upon winning their respective Olympic events between tokes or bowl games just before the cortisone? shot) as THE place to be (despite the mandatory fingerprinting at the gate), we nonetheless feel the urgent need to bring forth to the collective attention of the population at large what we have uncovered today.

Our objective is simple and we believe magnanimous, that is, in order to perchance enlist the assistance of (other members of) the great unwashed masses and to head this off before some overworked examiner at the USPTO just gives up (after comparing the length of his/her docket to the depth of Disney's pockets to fund the filing of seemingly endless rounds of continuations and appeals) and rubber stamps it into a first action allowance, to wit:

On June 11, 2009, the USPTO published a Patent Application No. 20090149265, entitled, "Method and system for customizing a theme park experience", (as you will note from the title, one would expect some problems, and folks ... it does not get prettier, but if you're game, read on ...

The ABSTRACT (in simple actuality and in descriptive embodiment, in fact, it seems) reads as follows:

"There is provided a method of customizing a theme park experience comprising designating a theme park experience motif, selecting customizable features associated with the designated motif, and assembling the designated motif and the selected customizable features into a custom virtual theme park experience suitable for adaptation as a customized theme park experience. In one embodiment, the method includes hosting the custom virtual theme park experience, rating the popularity of the custom virtual theme park experience among a community of users, and adapting the custom virtual theme park experience to a customized theme park experience. "

Now this is just what the country needs, ain't it?

As an aside, it occurred to us that we may want to thank goodness that Disney does not sell consumer electronics or computers, as this is about as novel as the feedback blogs on the millions of web pages for the past ten years. And thank goodness they are not in the travel business either since ... never mind.

If things were not already expensive enough for the average Joe or Josephine to cobble together the wherewithal for gasoline, sandwiches and the rest to keep the kids from writing off the whole summer and while we are embroiled in two (at least) wars, with the economy in the crapper and has been for over a year, ... now four inventive (their characterization no doubt, not ours) folks at Disney Enterprises have come up with a way to preclude the most imaginative among us from even fantasizing about a trip to an amusement park. Now THAT is what we call brutal capitalism. Lovely.

But what really appeals to us is not so much the substance (there is some, isn't there?) of the application, but rather the uncanny ability of the drafter thereof to so eloquently articulate the essence of the invention, and in such a professional way ....

A method and system for customizing a theme park experience, substantially as shown in and/or described in connection with at least one of the figures, as set forth more completely in the claims"

Now THAT IS (patent) HUBRIS! How succinct! How Magnificent! How sublime! Word-smithing does not adequately describe the toil and travail that went into that opus.

We won't even mention the self-serving reference to Bill Murray. Please check it out. Hopefully you will not have eaten within twelve hours prior to reading the application. You have been warned and thus we will not be responsible for any aspiration vomitus that may occur. Come to think of it, don't eat that week. And we cannot resist ... the reference was to a 1993 R Rated film (reportedly for sexuality, language, violence and drug content), a fact apparently lost on the drafter. Maybe Disney no longer cares about such things.

Now, one might think, that surely the folks at DISNEY would quote and distinguish a slew of prior art to prevent the uninformed among us to content that this case was just so much hooey. Alas, we could not find it. Perhaps it is such a novel and horrific thought that this could issue into a United States Letters Patent, that our eyes became blinded as those of Lot's wife, when gazing upon local real estate.

We trust that the drafter who likely will want to remain anonymous, will claim (no pun) that his/her/its intent in being so brief, was only to help the examiner and public out by economizing on words to read, not to mention that (we suspect) DISNEY will be claiming appropriate carbon credits for the paper, toner and bandwidth savings accruing therefrom. Nonetheless, we would likewise hope that all like and RIGHT-MINDED people will rise up and smell the coffee, seeing this application for what it truly is .... Well this is a family-friendly Blog so we choose not to be more specific but we trust you get the gist.

If there is a silver lining in all of this, and we always hope that there is, the contact details for the destination of any and all complaints, comments or other platitudes from the proletariat (as the application drafter may typically characterize the sources of any criticism just or unjust as it may be) are relatively simple:

ATTN Farshad Farjami

Just do it AFTER any trip to the Kingdom(s) since you would not want to be on that list when the prints are reconciled to the face at the gate.

We would have referred the readers to contact someone actually residing at Disney directly about this, but as one will note from this recent post, there seems to be a vacancy at least at ABC. We hope this is filled by the time your eyes gaze upon this.

Then again, if any of you want to apply, to take a more proactive role ...

The Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs will be the chief legal counsel for Disney ABC Cable Networks Group (“CNG”), responsible for the overall management of all legal issues relating to CNG and the effectiveness of the Legal Affairs department for CNG.


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