More than one year ago, the world lost what remained of US Patent 6,237,565. Conceived in 1999, the ‘565 had yet to know the impact it would have on the word, nor the fact that it would become known simply as “The Teleflex Patent.” We don’t know whether the hundreds of siblings ever felt overshadowed by the ‘565’s notoriety, but we do know the ‘565 was the kind of patent that sought to squeeze all the marrow out of life. He lost an arm (lovingly referred to as Claim 4) in 2007 when he stretched it out just a bit too far, only to have it sliced off by a 31 page paper cut during a trip to DC. Tom Goldstein was there, and I recall watching him give his best efforts to prevent the encounter from costing ‘565 his arm. Even the doctor who brought ‘565 into this world even pleaded to spare the limb.
Alas, several months later, Tom emerged from the hospital, and warned us all that what happened to the ‘565 was no accident, noting “It’s hard to miss that message.” The ‘565’s Canadian assailant is believed to be still at large.
But with three good, non-obvious limbs remaining, the ‘565 lived on, albeit with the aid of a rectilinear support member. His natural parents had been on financial life support, during this time and later in 2007, notification finally issued about the adoption that had actually occurred two years prior. After moving in with adoptive parents, ‘565 was rarely seen in public, but life may have no longer been easy with–(Ed. note — author’s original comments about ‘565’s fabled combination with electronic sensors, and his new mother’s extreme distaste for hanging wires has been deleted as lacking in factual support).*
On May 29, 2009, after several years of neglect, ‘565 passed away quietly, lapsing after Patent Office officials properly observed his “do not resusicate” order, and leaving behind only his teachings, which he dedicates to the public. He survived long enough to witness the passing of older sister (US Patent 6,109,241) in 2008, also sucumbimg just nine months earlier to the same premature illness that would consume them both.
Though his passing was without fanfare or recognition of any kind, the spirit of ‘565 lives on, as the doctors now educate parents on how to protect their patents against KSR, starting before they’re even born. With any hope, Tom’s warning will become but a distant memory, as the ‘565 likely has in the minds of most of us.
Rest in peace, ‘565. Gone, but not forgotten. (2001-2009)
* If you’re scratching your head at this twist on an old movie reference, you’re likely well under 35.