patent jealousy

I hate you, Eric Holzle. Well, maybe not hate. But I am extremely jealous…
Some of you may have heard of the original ‘stinky t-shirt study‘:

In 1996, Claus Wedekind, a zoologist at Bern University in Switzerland, conducted what’s become known as the stinky T-shirt study. Wedekind had 44 men each wear a t-shirt for two nights straight, then tested how women reacted to the smelly shirts.

Like mice, women preferred the scent of men whose immune systems were unlike their own. If a man’s immune system was similar, a woman tended to describe his T-shirt as smelling like her father or brother.

More recent fiindings link this effect directly to genes in the major histocompatibility complex, or MHC:

…Then they looked at three MHC genes, each with two different varieties, and compared each partner’s genetic makeup.

The more similar, the less sexually responsive they were to their partners. They also were more unfaithful. The genetically similar women reported more attraction, interest and fantasy toward other men prior to ovulation. When they were not in this phase of the cycle, they showed no sexual interest outside of their partner.

So, I’m poking around at this stuff, thinking “This is the basis of a dating site! I can see it now: Get people to get their genes tested, have them post the data about their alleles to the site… it’s a simple match. If you make some money, you could even fund some research to collect more data about the impact of particular differences. You could market through gene testing clinics… damn, this has legs!”

Then, as I googled, I saw Eric’s patent application:

3. A method of matching human beings with others, comprising the steps of: (a) assembling and/or defining a population of human participants, physically and/or virtually, to be matched amongst themselves and/or any future or past participants in the context of a dating service, dating services, or other social groups or organizations; (b) producing, assembling, and/or observing the class I and class II MHC profiles of all or any fraction of the participants, where said profiles include the HLA-A and HLA-B loci in the class I region, and the DRB1 locus in the class II region; (c) comparing said profiles of some or all of the participants with said profiles of others and rating the degree of compatibility between any two or more people according to the number of alleles they have in common, where fewer commonalities represent a greater degree of compatibility; (d) matching said participants based on said comparisons.

Well, it is just a patent application, but if Amazon can get the 1-click patent, this is a shoo-in. I’m not familiar with the relevant bodies of prior art, but as such claims go, this isn’t bad.

Damn you, Eric Holzle. Damn you.

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