As your resident patent librarian, I had planned to write today about the changes to patent law that went into effect on Saturday, March 16. While the rest of us were busy decorating shamrock cookies for Saint Patrick’s Day, inventors and patent professionals were bracing themselves for an enormous shift in the American intellectual property landscape: our switch from a first-to-invent country to a first-to-file country.
What does this mean? To put it briefly, as of March 16, it no longer matters if you invented something before your competitor did. All that matters now is who filed their patent application the fastest.
Of course this is not as simple as it sounds, so if you have questions let me direct you to a recording of a recent library presentation by IP attorneys Judy Mohr and Evan Boetticher. They kindly allowed us to record them and to post their presentation slides online. Just click here, look for the “What’s New” box and click the link that says ‘Applying for a Patent.’
As interesting as these patent changes are, I’d rather write today about something totally unrelated that has been bothering me ever since I noticed it.
Again, to put it briefly: there are too many daughters in our library — specifically in the fiction section. These surplus daughters are not studying at the tables or running around in the stacks. They are sitting quietly on the shelves, on the spines of our books. These daughters are trapped in the titles.
In our fiction collection, we have 39 books that use the word ‘son’ in the title. But the girls outstrip the boys nearly 3-1, with 109 daughter titles in adult fiction alone.
Whose daughters are they? Take your pick of professions. We have magician’s daughters, baker’s daughters, butcher’s daughters, abortionist’s daughters, tailor’s daughters, and professor’s daughters. We have the female offspring of samurai, fortune tellers, bonesetters, bootleggers, immigrants and presidents. We have the Tsarina’s daughter. We even have Cleopatra’s daughter.
What gives? Why are the women of our literary landscape so often defined by the professions of their husbands or (frequently) their fathers? I call upon the future novelists of America to think of another way to title their books, if only because we’ll soon run out of professions for these women to be descended from or married to. I’m not sure I’m ready for The Project Manager’s Daughter or The Vice President of Marketing’s Daughter, but at this rate that’s where we’re headed.
Now, go file those provisional patent applications.