With EFF’s Help, Language Teacher Responds to Ridiculous Patent Threat

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Hodder and Stoughton contends that Language Transfer infringes U.S. Patent No. 6,565,358, titled “Language teaching system.” The patent essentially covers a language lesson on tape. In the patent’s words, it claims a particular sequence of “expression segments” to be played on a “recorded medium” using a “playing device.” In plain English, the “expression segments” amount to the following sequence: the teacher asks how to translate a phrase, there is a short pause, an example student attempts to answer the question, and then the teacher provides the correct answer.

At this point you might be asking yourself, wait what? How on Earth did someone get a patent on putting a language lesson on tape? Those are good questions. The answer, frankly, is that the Patent Office needs to do a much better job.

Sharing this to remind everyone that common sense and decency don’t amount for much; regulation and reform, yo.