An interesting sounding patent has been filed in the US, following the change in US patent law that allows schemes as well as physical inventions to be patented.
One Hugh Harlan of California, who is head of a company called The Brain, has patented the operation of code that mimics the human thought process. (US Patent 6031537)
His patent covers computer operations that represent close and distant thoughts. It means he'll receive royalties for any process that can be represented by flow charts linking chunks of related information together.
The New Scientist reports that he has also applied for a global patent (WO 0057257) in anticipation of similar changes in patent law elsewhere. ®