The New Yorker has published an article on Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures, a think tank that brainstorms new ideas, patents them, and licenses their subsequent ownership of that new “intellectual property.”

The point of incredulity, for me, came when I read this quote from Bill Gates:

They also came up with this idea to stop hurricanes. Basically, the waves in the ocean have energy, and you use that to lower the temperature differential. I’m not saying it necessarily is going to work. But it’s just an example of something where you go, Wow.

The article talks about Alexander Graham Bell and his genius, and how Myhrvold is inspired by Bell. But Bell didn’t simply think up the telephone and patent it; Bell actually invented the telephone!

Intellectual Ventures files up to 500 patents a year. There are no inventions here, mind you, just ideas. You know the patent system is broken when a company can obtain a government-granted monopoly on an idea like preventing a hurricane and sue the bejeezus out of someone who might actually figure out how to control Mother Nature.

Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. It’s the implementation that is hard. The research and successful development of a seemingly impossible idea is worthy of a patent, not the brainstorming for the idea itself. How would you like to solve an impossible problem only to be rewarded with a lawsuit by a troll with a submarine patent who’s put zero work into solving the hard problem? Yeah, that’s what I thought.