If there's one thing that highlights how impressively brilliant-but-fucked modern technology is, it's the existence of patent trolls: terrible, soul-sucking reprobates who file vaguely termed patents explicitly so they can sue companies who eventually actually invent something that infringes on their bullshit even slightly.
Giovanni da Modena
As seen here, interacting with the concept of innovation.
It's comforting, then, in a twisted, schadenfreude-esque way, that our ancestors also had to deal with these guys. That said, they had the option of challenging them to a duel and settling ridiculous legal disputes in a split second, so we're kinda envious.
One of the earliest-known patent trolls was a devious swine known as George Selden, an engineer with a fetish for reading patents. He shot to infamy in the late 19th century with the "Road Engine," a design for a horseless carriage back in the days when no one was interested in making them. Yet. Selden, therefore, filed his patent in 1879 and, through skillful manipulation of the rules concerning patent filing, managed to delay the process of granting it until 1895, when automobile manufacturing was the hottest new career in town.
A career that, and we cannot stress this enough, he never once held.
By doing this, Selden ensured that no one else would be able to patent his idea and, also, no one would be able to create a workaround. Whenever a car manufacturer created a new model, Selden would often claim that the design infringed on his design and, oh wouldn't you know it, this whole problem could go away after a swift cash injection. He would later be described as the bane of the automotive industry and, while we were pretty harsh on patent trolls during the opening of this entry, it's hard not to root for the man who caused Henry "An Actual Nazi" Ford a headache.
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