When most companies wish to invalidate a patent, they have to find prior art which basically shows that the patent office didn’t find something already published when they granted the patent. The prior art usually has to be from before the submission date to the patent office. That can be an expensive undertaking – especially since it is often lawyers who are doing the work and you know how much they charge. At the same time they often don’t have the required depth of knowledge to do this effectively because they, just like the patent office, can often fail to see subtle differences or similarities. On many occasions I have been brought in as a consultant to help with prior art searches.
The other day I was surprised to see a submission on another publication site in this area. That site allows anyone to make postings and this posting was really quite interesting. It creates a competition to find prior art – offering a $5000 reward for the best prior art found. They provide the patent that they wish to invalidate – 5,825,640 that describes a charge pump in a voltage controlled oscillator.
Now some of their “rules” are interesting in that they require a submission to be from a single person and that person can only submit one entry. It then says: “If your reference has already been submitted or is not acceptable, the system will automatically reject it.” They also say that “All submissions are subject to Patexia's contest legal terms. Failure to follow these rules may lead to disqualification from the contest.” The legal terms are not provided on the website.
Oh and just in case you are wondering who is behind this contest? Well the Patexia website gives it away - Freescale.
So, I give them a high mark for taking an interesting approach, but almost a zero for execution. There is no transparency in the process, and while they say “The best submission is guaranteed to receive the prize.” There is no indication of how or when this is established and paid.Brian Bailey
– keeping you covered
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