Every Shadow of a Shade of an Idea…
Just so, 126 years later:
U.S. Supreme Court
Atlantic Works v. Brady, 107 U.S. 192 (1883)
Decided March 5, 1883
MR. JUSTICE BRADLEY delivered the opinion of the Court.
It was never the object of those laws to grant a monopoly for every trifling device, every shadow of a shade of an idea, which would naturally and spontaneously occur to any skilled mechanic or operator in the ordinary progress of manufactures.
Such an indiscriminate creation of exclusive privileges tends rather to obstruct than to stimulate invention. It creates a class of speculative schemers who make it their business to watch the advancing wave of improvement and gather its foam in the form of patented monopolies which enable them to lay a heavy tax upon the industry of the country without contributing anything to the real advancement of the art.
It embarrasses the honest pursuit of business with fears and apprehensions of concealed liens and unknown liabilities to law suits and vexatious accountings for profits made in good faith.
No more vexatious accountings!