Really! A 55 page patent application. To build a sandwich? For contrast, it only took about half that many pages to apply for a patent with the following Abstract:
A technique is disclosed that provides a host computing device user with convenient access to a network. In the illustrative embodiment of the present invention, a telecommunications station stores device driver files. The host computing device installs a device driver. Once properly configured, the host computing device controls the station, through the device driver, to transmit data blocks into a shared-communications medium. The host computing device also receives a first portion of network-specific data (e.g., network configuration information, security configuration information, etc.) that enables the host computing device to properly configure itself to communicate via the network of interest.
Disclosure – that is one of my own patent applications, but it was a useful example. It is, I would argue, much more technical than building a sandwich. My kids mastered the art of Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches when they were about three years old.
Companies abuse the patent system by making applications overly broad and complex (I am not exonerating my own application – patent attorney’s for my former employer actually made the filing). They do this in hopes of obfuscating the patent research in the belief that the broader and more complex the claim the better the likelihood something in the application is patentable.
These are the types of practices that make waiting for a patent to be issued a multi-year ordeal. The sheer volume of patents would be difficult enough for the USPTO to manage, even without the purposeful complication of the filings. I’ve heard of a lot of proposals to “fixing” the patent application process, but my favorite is to make the applications public, and allow anyone to research, demonstrate prior art, argue pro/con for why the patent is/isn’t valid, etc then use the compiled data to make an informed decision – in a transparent way.
Anyway, this is just another reason for me to stay away from McDonald’s (as if the crappy food wasn’t a good enough reason).