Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Microsoft receives coveted "hooker" patent.

Microsoft has been awarded a patent that allows them to charge a user for the level of service he selects and uses from a hardware or software package, otherwise known as a "brothel" or "hooker menu."
[from Ars Technica, December 29, 2008.]

As men who acquire the services of prostitutes know, the amount you pay is based on the services provided. And these services are many and often packaged as a bundle, or provided à la carte.

Common names for bundled services are:
the around-the-world;
the half-and-half;
the johnny-come-lately;
the New Jersey Turnpike;
and the two-eggs-any-style.
I won't detail the services provided for each menu item; try ordering one and surprise yourself.

A prostitute can provide virtually any level of service, from a simple catch-and-release lasting a few minutes to a full-blown nuclear meltdown that takes all night. The movie Pretty Woman dramatizes this type of service transaction in this scene:

[after negotiating a price of three thousand dollars]
Vivian (Julia Roberts): I would have stayed for two thousand.
Edward Lewis (Richard Gere): I would have paid four.

As the article points out, Microsoft has the patent to negotiate a scalable pricing schedule. But when blow jobs can be had for $1 at the bus station, can Microsoft set a price that will appeal to customers? (Okay, the article didn't mention blow jobs and bus stations, but it could have.)

How the USPTO can grant a patent for a "pay as you go" pricing scheme which has been in practice for thousands of years is anyone's guess. Maybe it's because hookers don't carry actual service menus, so Microsoft could claim they came up with it first.