Byte.com: Internet Patents Are Changing The RulesMar 13, 2000, 21:40 (3 Talkback[s])
[ Thanks to Don Sprague for this link. ]
"Title 35 of the United States Code enacted on July 19, 1952 by an Act of Congress and having taken effect on January 1, 1953, is the set of laws that govern U.S. patents. It has been amended many times since then, most recently on November 29, 1999, through Public Law 106-113 (including Senate bill 1948 of the 106th Congress whose Title IV pertains to patents), whereby a number of changes were made to incorporate the World Trade Organization treaty on patents that resulted from the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, and to make the Patent and Trademark Office more efficient. Several important changes to principles of infringement and right of priority and the process of dispute resolution were also made by this recent legislation. These changes and the general use of technology in almost every business process make patent law more important to the future of every industry...."
"The final class of patent, statutory, does not afford any legal protection to the patentee, but does convey legal protection to the general public by registering the invention and thereby formally declaring it to be prior art for the purpose of future patent filings. This class of patent is most commonly used to register inventions made by the U.S. Government and it is known as Statutory Invention Registration, or SIR."
"Anyone can apply to receive SIR patent status for a novel invention, and there is only a small one-time fee for this type of patent compared to the larger and periodic fees required to receive and maintain a regular patent. However, statutory patents are only used when the patentee wants to guarantee that no third party will ever be able to claim patent protection for an invention. This makes SIR a very interesting, if currently overlooked, option for protecting open source inventions....When searching at the U.S. Patent Office website, you can find SIR patents designated with the prefix of "H". Section 157 of USC Title 35 defines SIR. There is a window of opportunity in which a patent can be filed. After that window closes, the opportunity to patent is gone for everyone because the public disclosure and use of the invention stops the clock and marks the date on which the invention became public prior art. If you or another party fail to secure a filing date within a year of that event, the effect is a little like filing a Statutory Invention Registration to secure rights for the public, the invention becomes de facto public domain. A variety of factors combine to establish a special right of priority and unique status for the person who files a patent application or reveals a novel new invention first. In particular, public disclosure of an invention by you does not prevent you from obtaining a patent on the invention, provided that you file for patent protection within one year of disclosure."