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An un-patent would put an idea in the public domain
  (+8, -3)
(+8, -3)
  [vote for,

How many times have you had a great idea that it seems that no one has picked up on? But you don't have the time or money to persue a real patent.

What if there were a place that you could register such an idea and ensure that if anyone were to come along and claim that they invented your idea and tried to patent it, you could point at a certified statement that would guarantee that their patent would be invalidated?

All that you would have to do is to agree that the idea would go immediately into the public domain.

It would be a great resource for everyone.

mzellers, Mar 17 2007

Ideas marketplace Ideas_20marketplace
shameless self plug [xaviergisz, Mar 17 2007]

Defensive publishing at IP.com http://www.ip.com/prior-art-database/
[ldischler, Mar 17 2007]

Using internet prior art? http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent/
IBM hopes to get the teeming millions of internet surfers to find prior art -- I wonder how much of the citations will be to internet-only available postings? [pathetic, Mar 18 2007]

IBM licenses patents freely http://news.com.com/2100-1017-886526.html
Relating to ebXML: "We are making this at zero cost," the IBM representative said. "OASIS policy requires companies to disclose patents. IBM followed the OASIS procedure." [pathetic, Mar 18 2007]

Dupont donated patents http://www.thecati.com/cati-delaware.htm
More free for the using patents. [pathetic, Mar 18 2007]

Wants spare patents http://www.nistac.org
This outfit is seeking some free patents. [pathetic, Mar 18 2007]

Tactile Feedback Shaver Tactile_20Feedback_20Shaver
Halfbaked Example [half, Mar 18 2007]

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       Simply publishing your idea (e.g. in a trade magazine) allows its use as prior art against a patent claim.   

       This is called "Technical Disclosure" or "Research Disclosure". There are magazines that specialize in it, for a fee, but you don't really need to use them if you've got access to some sort of technical or research community.
jutta, Mar 17 2007

       /It would be a great resource for everyone./   

       Except the people who might benefit from the idea if it were actually developed. Because you dont have the time or money to develop it and the people who do have the time or money will be disinclined to do it for the "public domain".   

       Having a good idea is like conceiving a kid, and developing a good idea into a real useful product is like raising the kid to age 18. Both aspects are necessary but one is pretty much pure fun and the other entails a huge investment of time and resources.
bungston, Mar 17 2007

       // the people who do have the time or money will be disinclined to do it for the "public domain".   

       That an idea is in the public domain of course doesn't mean that products based on it will be. If execution is as hard as you describe - as I happen to believe as well - then executing well is a marketable product advantage, just as the invention itself.   

       I believe that there are some industries where your reasoning is true, and you have to have a patent to attract investors, but there surely must be many where not having *others* be able to get one and shut you down is good enough.
jutta, Mar 17 2007

       Does posting an idea here make it "public domain"?
bungston, Mar 17 2007

       Good question, [bungston]. In principle, yes, even an oral presentation puts something into public domain. If you want to be able to prove it though, well, the web lacks the immutability of print media.
placid_turmoil, Mar 17 2007

       I am a patent attorney. Items published on the internet are prior art for the purposes of blocking later-made inventions from maturing into patents. About a year ago, I was prosecuting a patent and the patent examiner (who invariably rejects claims and stops 'bad' patents from issuing) cited an online bulletin-board posting for the proposition of using LEET-speak as a way to obfuscate passwords. Thus, the effort/cost to 'publish' is extremely low.   

       As a second point, [BrauBeaton] states a common misconception -- that establishing a dated/sealed envelope (even mailed to yourself), alone, suffices to block another from obtaining a patent (or even selling a product using the idea). The more accurate explanation of how _written_ business records establishes and inventor's priority originates in U.S. law (and is found no-where else in the world). In essence, the U.S. patent office will permit a patent applicant who is _later_ in time to file a patent application to have a superior right to a second patent applicant who actually filed before the first patent applicant.   

       In essence, the U.S. system rewards the person who is 'first to conceive'. The proof of timing of conception depends upon the later-in-time applicant's ability to show a paper trail showing conception _and_ that later-in-time applicant's ability to show that he did not abandon the inventing effort during the interval between first conception and actual filing of the patent application.   

       An example can illustrate my point: Lets say that [mzellers] invents and records in a log-book the conception of the 'car that runs on cow flatulence' invention in JANUARY. [Jutta] has a brainstorm in FEBRUARY of the same year and files a patent on the invention in FEBRUARY. [Mzellers], being a cautious person, performs many experiments, and eventually files in JUNE. The patent office, seeing common subject matter, may institute a patent interference proceeding. Each party shows their business records, and the one showing enabling disclosure (conception) occurring first wins. In this case [Mzellers] kept records of his invention in JANUARY and that trumps (in the U.S. at least) [Jutta's] later invention in FEBUARY.
pathetic, Mar 17 2007

       That's good stuff, [pathetic]. Almost worth pasting into the help file or some such. It would be nice to have a separate section here with advice for the serious inventors and inventions, but I suppose that brings with it the burden of responsibility for good advice and there are probably sites that do that much better.
wagster, Mar 17 2007

       This is highly baked, and is called “defensive publication.” Journals such as “Research Disclosure” specialize in this.
ldischler, Mar 17 2007

       [pathetic] That certainly belongs in the help file. That is something that most people do not know very well. I certainly did not before beginning the process of filing my own patent. I suspect that there are a number of people here who may feel the need to file at some time.
Galbinus_Caeli, Mar 18 2007

       [pathetic] How do you make certain that the dates on a bulletin-board are accurate? Do you take the site's word for it, or do you use third party web backups like archive.org's "wayback machine"? What legal validity do any electronic timestamps on the web have?
placid_turmoil, Mar 18 2007

       [placid_turmoil] you raise a very good question. Generally nobody knows that their posting will be used by a patent examiner sometime in the future. So, for the most part, I expect that nobody expects anybody to deliberately 'fake' a post to appear to be earlier than it actually was. I expect that it is possible to fake-out the patent office, but the use of internet publications as prior art occurs so seldom, that I don't think anyone would be nefarious enough, as a normal practice, to set dates years earlier than actually happened. Often there is a track record of posting, responses, responses-to-responses, and so the posting appears in sequence with a number of other things. Thus, sequence and other context tends to lend credibility to the date that the website asserts.   

       Hmmm, maybe the next time the examiner uses such prior art, I'll ask him to seek an affidavit from the website hoster to affirm that no one has tinkered with the dates.   

       Ultimately, Google spiders websites and can be used as a independent third part to validate some websites date of origin.
pathetic, Mar 18 2007

       My understanding was that prior art had to be in a printed publication, available to the public.
ldischler, Mar 18 2007

       I have a more or less academic question on this subject.   

       Say I post a halfbaked idea then someone else patents that thing or something very similar at a later date. Is an internet posting too shaky to block their patent? Would my posting sufficiently constitute public disclosure? I've heard varying opinions, including those within this thread, so why not a couple more?   

       Similarly, if I were to post a halfbaked musing here, along with an illustration of what I was musing about then came up with an actual working product with the same concept, but different design, would I be able to patent the actual design if I had disclosed the general concept a couple of years earlier?   

       I mean, I can't patent a general concept so it stands to reason that revealing a concept wouldn't stop me from patenting a specific implementation of the concept.   

       Take my "Tactile Feedback Shaver" as an example. (link) Suppose I came up with an actual practical design not based on the illustration I originally provided (using a different shaving mechanism and finger positioning for example), will my earlier disclosure prevent me from obtaining protection for my hypothetical "real" product idea?   

       Maybe all I'd be left with was the option to do a design patent.
half, Mar 18 2007

       Maybe you can get a half patent.
placid_turmoil, Mar 19 2007

       1. //Is an internet posting too shaky to block their patent?// I think any "public disclosure" counts (at least in the UK), so the only difficulty should be in proving that the idea was indeed posted and publically available at the time stated.   

       2. //would I be able to patent the actual design if I had disclosed the general concept a couple of years earlier?// In the US, I don't think you can invalidate your own claim anyway (??). In the UK, an examiner could argue that your specific design was 'obvious' given the earlier disclosure of the general concept, depending on the case
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 19 2007

       The main issue with ideas posted here being used as prior art is whether they are 'enabling disclosures'. So as long as there is sufficient detail for a 'person skilled in the art' to build the invention, the posting can be used as prior art.   

       if you do a search on google patents for 'halfbakery', you'll see a handful of references to ideas here.   

       If you have posted an idea on halfbakery and then decide you want to patent it, you have a 12 month 'grace period' in some countries (including Australia and US). This 'grace period' means your own posting cannot be used as prior art.
xaviergisz, Mar 19 2007

       [xaviergisz] Thanks for the pointer to www.google.com/patents. There is something peculiarly amusing about half-baked ideas operating to block patent applications (though in one of the cases, there was no rejection of any of the original application claims). Even funnier is that I actually know a patent attorney and an inventor who received one of the Halfbakery citations.
pathetic, Mar 19 2007

       Wow. I had no idea that patents these days could include references to web documents! I've added a few backlinks. (Sorry for the churn.)
jutta, Mar 20 2007

       i suspect that you could pay for it with forced viewing of popup ads.
WcW, Jun 11 2009

       [POPUP] You are evil and will suffer appropriately.
normzone, Jun 11 2009

       According to the MPEP, "An electronic publication, including an on-line database or Internet publication, is considered to be a "printed publication" within the meaning of 35 U.S.C."   

       Seven patents now cite the halfbakery (which seems far fewer than should!). They mention users Sammmy, Farmer John, and Kbecker--who has 3 citations.
ldischler, Jun 12 2009


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