Morning Advantage: Time to Reinvent Patents?

The ongoing patent-infringement trial between Apple and Samsung has people scratching their heads about whether design elements like rectangles and rounded corners are fundamentally patentable. Now, the patent wars are hitting us at the drive-through. As detailed in a recent Wall Street Journal article, a Chicago inventor named Scott White is suing Heinz because he claims that Heinz stole his idea for their “Dip & Squeeze” condiment containers. White claims that — after one too many mishaps squeezing ketchup packets in his car — he invented a way for people to choose whether to squeeze ketchup onto their food, or dip food into the container instead. Heinz says that White’s claim is groundless.

Like the smartphone lawsuits, the rights to fundamental design elements are being disputed — in this case, the container’s “removable cover” (peel back at the wide end for all you dippers out there; remove from the narrow end for those more inclined to squeeze). While the lawyers duke it out, the case highlights a patent system that some argue is broken, but that still offers protection to the little guy as well as to corporate heavyweights.

IT'S ALL IN THE GENES

DNA: The Ultimate Hard Drive (ScienceNOW)

When it comes to developing new technologies for storing massive amounts of data, we need to look no further than our own DNA. A research team at Harvard Medical School recently found a way to store an entire genetics textbook on less than a picogram of DNA — a breakthrough that’s shedding new light on how we might store humongous quantities of data in the future. Biologists caution not to get rid of your hard drive just yet — storing data on DNA is still pretty impractical for general use.

TIME TO MAKE THE DATA

The Hidden Costs of Buying Donuts with Your Phone (Wired.com)

Dunkin’ Donuts just released its new mobile payments app, which now allows you to pay for that Coolatta and cruller by using your phone to scan a barcode at the checkout. According to Wired, the app works much like the Starbucks app, where you add money to your account by entering your credit card information. Wired says that most retail apps are still just glorified gift cards with few benefits for consumers. However, they give retailers a wide-open window into your purchasing history, habits, and even your physical location. Until mobile payment apps offer any real value for consumers, you may want to think twice before biting!

BONUS BITS:

Multidimensional Perspectives

3D Printed Meat: It's What's for Dinner (CNET)
Japanese 3D-Printing Company Creates Models Of Your Live Fetus (TechCrunch)
Giant 3-D Printer to Make an Entire House in 20 Hours (POPSCI)

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