Wild and crazy patents

Patent protection has been granted over the years to some truly off-the-wall ideas, including a hair comb-over and basmati rice. Some that seemed like shoo-ins at the time were later overturned, including the famed ENIAC computer.

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Basmati rice (1997)


International outrage and calls of bio-piracy rang out when the USPTO granted a Texas company named RiceTec patent number 5,663,484 on "basmati rice lines and grains." A native of India and other eastern countries, basmati rice has been eaten for thousands of years. The issue nearly caused a diplomatic crisis when India threatened to take the issue of the patent to the World Trade Organization. The USPTO invalidated the patent.

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