At last! A patent attorney willing to teach us how to find prior art.
Here's a wonderful new aid. PubPat has released a How To, on finding prior art. It's an audio file, with an accompanying PDF, which has slides to help follow the talk and then the patent he uses to teach the process. Here's the Ogg file. And here is the MP3. The PDF is here. The MP3 is 43.6 MB. I wonder. Should we cut it up into segments for dialup users? If so, any volunteers would be welcome.
UPDATE: Here you go, with the smaller files first:
Patent law is a legal speciality, and it's not my speciality, so I've been asking lawyers in the field to help us. The help is now here, and there will be more coming. The important point is this: searching for prior art isn't quite as simple as you might think. PubPat's Executive Director Dan Ravicher explains the difference: "To be worthwhile, the prior art has to be exactly the same or any differences between it and the targeted patent have to fall within the judicially narrowed concept of obviousness that exists in patent law today, which is much, much less than what most reasonable technologists would consider obvious."
If Microsoft or one of their friends does, in fact, bring a patent infringement action against GNU/Linux, maybe against Samba or OpenOffice or Wine, or whatever, we need to be ready. The time to learn is now, before it happens, so if and when it does happen, we can quickly be effective.
I'm learning right along with you, so let's get started. Also, be aware that we have expanded our permanent Patents resource page. It now includes a new feature, Patent Stories in the News This Week, listed by date. We'll be storing them on a new linked-to permanent page as well, in case you want to find them again later. These are patent-only stories, separate from and in addition to the Groklaw Latest News Picks that we have featured every day on the home page.
Here's PubPat's press release about the teaching aid.
PUBPAT RELEASES FREE "FINDING PRIOR ART FOR AN ISSUED PATENT" PROGRAM
NEW YORK -- The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") released a free program today that details how to find prior art for issued patents. The hour long audio recording with supporting written materials uses a model patent as the basis for examples during the session. PUBPAT's program is made available as part of the organization's ongoing efforts to inform the public and provide advocacy about the patent system.
"One of the biggest problems with the patent system today is that it is not capable of being easily understood by the general public, because it has been intentionally made overly confusing and complex, highly non-intuitive, and extremely expensive for anyone to know what it all means and how patents impact them," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director and the author of the "Finding Prior Art for an Issued Patent" program. "The program we released today is one way in which PUBPAT is enabling the general public to better understand the patent system and defend itself from the harms caused by wrongly issued patents."
More information about PUBPAT's education and advocacy activities, including links to the "Finding Prior Art for an Issued Patent" program, can be found at http://www.pubpat.org/Educating_and_Advocating.htm.
The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") is a not-for-profit legal services organization working to protect the public from the harms caused by the patent system, particularly the harms caused by wrongly issued patents and unsound patent policy. PUBPAT provides the general public and those specific persons or businesses otherwise deprived of access to the system governing patents, with representation, advocacy, and education. To be kept informed of PUBPAT News, subscribe to the PUBPAT News List by sending an email with "subscribe" in the subject line to email@example.com. To be removed from the PUBPAT News List, send an email with "unsubscribe" in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.