Classifying Non-Patent Literature…

Classifying Non-Patent Literature To Aid In Prior Art Searches by John Berryman.

From the post:

Before a patent can be granted, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the innovation outlined by the patent application is indeed novel. Similarly, when defending one’s own intellectual property against a non-practicing entity (NPE – also known as a patent troll) one often attempts to prove that the patent held by the accuser is invalid by showing that relevant prior art already exists and that their patent is actual not that novel.

Finding Prior Art

So where does one get ahold of pertinent prior art? The most obvious place to look is in the text of earlier patents grants. If you can identify a set of reasonably related grants that covers the claims of the patent in question, then the patent may not be valid. In fact, if you are considering the validity of a patent application, then reviewing existing patents is certainly the first approach you should take. However, if you’re using this route to identify prior art for a patent held by an NPE, then you may be fighting an uphill battle. Consider that a very bright patent examiner has already taken this approach, and after an in-depth examination process, having found no relevant prior art, the patent office granted the very patent that you seek to invalidate.

But there is hope. For a patent to be granted, it must not only be novel among the roughly 10Million US Patents that currently exist, but it must also be novel among all published media prior to the application date – so called non-patent literature (NPL). This includes conference proceeding, academic articles, weblogs, or even YouTube videos. And if anyone – including the applicant themselves – publicly discloses information critical to their patent’s claims, then the patent may be rendered invalid. As a corollary, if you are looking to invalidate a patent, then looking for prior art in non-patent literature is a good idea! While tools are available to systematically search through patent grants, it is much more difficult to search through NPL. And if the patent in question truly is not novel, then evidence must surely exists – if only you knew where to look.

More suggestions than solutions but good suggestions, such as these, are hard to come by.

John suggests using existing patents and their classifications as a learning set to classify non-patent literature.

Interesting but patent language is highly stylized and quite unlike the descriptions you encounter in non-patent literature.

It would be an interesting experiment to take some subset of patents and their classifications along with a set of non-patent literature, known to describe the same “inventions” covered by the patents.

Suggestions for subject areas?

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