The 2009 Report — Sun Nov 8 13:03:17 PST 2009

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Unlikely Group Working Happily Together — Radar O'Reilly November 8, 2009
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Letter to Congressman Mike Honda — Public.Resource.Org November 7, 2009
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FOIA Request to USPTO — Public.Resource.Org November 7, 2009
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Public Data Dissemination Sole Source Contract to Google, Inc. — U.S. Patent and Trademark Office November 6, 2009
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Letter to the Deputy CTO — LexMachina.Com and Stanford University November 5, 2009
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RFI Presentation Materials — U.S. Patent and Trademark Office September 24, 2009
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Letter to U.S. Patent Office — Stanford University September 17, 2009
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Letter to U.S. Patent Office — Public.Resource.Org September 15, 2009
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Federal Business Opportunity — U.S. Patent and Trademark Office September 4, 2009
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Letter to Under Secretary Kappos — Congressman Mike Honda August 14, 2009
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Letter to Congressman Honda — Public.Resource.Org August 12, 2009
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Letter to the White House — Public.Resource.Org July 14, 2009

From 1998: Secrets are incompatible with promoting the useful arts

Promoting Progress

Patents are a bargain. In return for disclosing a useful invention, the inventor is granted a limited monopoly to exploit said invention. But, if the details of the invention, duly filed and disclosed, are buried inside in the bureaucratic labyrinths of Washington, D.C., how is the progress of the useful arts promoted? Patents must be widely distributed or the purpose of the Constitution has not been met.

As a pro-constitution nonprofit, we felt that this situation needed to change, and the U.S. patent database was thus released on the Internet in 1994 and 1995 along with Securities and Exchange Commission documents. The situation at the time was so bad that even patent examiners didn't have good access to patents, and we noticed an immediate spike in traffic from uspto.gov as they used our WAIS database to search prior art.

Third Time is the Charm

The Patent Office, unlike the Securities and Exchange Commission, had a philosophical aversion to distributing “their” database on the Internet for free. Finally, in 1998 after 2 previous attempts to get the office to distribute their data properly, a letter (with a cc to the New York Times) was dispatched to the Vice President suggesting that if the government couldn't commit to doing the right thing within 60 days, others would ursurp their functionality.

While the bureaucrats assessed the situation and the clock started ticking, the Internet Multicasting Service went about building a better patent database. On day 59, the Commissioner of Patents went before the American Bar Association to announce that patents and trademarks would become freely available on the Internet. We estimated that this database increased the size of the World Wide Web by 15 percent at the time.

TRACKBACK—DISSEMINATION OF PATENTS

The Grey Lady
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The Seal
Patent and Trademark Databases On-Line — Public.Resource.Org April 7, 1998
The Grey Lady
U.S. Is Urged to Offer More Data on Line — New York Times May 4, 1998
The Grey Lady
Washington Unplugged — New York Times August 6, 1996
The Seal
Our Friends at the Patent Office (Mail Archive) — Public.Resource.Org June 4, 1996
The Seal
Patent Database Access Statistics — Public.Resource.Org July 31, 1995
The Grey Lady
Group to Widen Access To Federal Data Bases — New York Times December 23, 1994

PAPER TRAIL

Once the province of a nuts-and-bolts world, patents are now being applied to thoughts and ideas in cyberspace. It's a ridiculous phenomenon and a nightmare for e-commerce.

James Gleick, Patently Absurd
07.08.98
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FOIA
FOIA Request and Selected Documents
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01.17.98
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MEMO
Memorandum to the VPOTUS
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08.08.95
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CIRCULATED
Letters and Memoranda from IMS
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01.04.95
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REQUEST
Request for OMB A-130 Review
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09.12.95
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PROTEST
Outraged letter from IFI/Plenum
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09.12.95
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PROTEST
Outraged letter from LEXIS/NEXIS
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09.13.95
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PROTEST
Outraged letter from West Publishing Company
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09.12.95
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PROTEST
Outraged letter from Knight-Ridder
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09.12.95
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PROTEST
Outraged letter from the “Coalition”
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TRACKBACK—PATENT REFORM

boingboing
Peer to Patent — The Do Tank February, 2007
James Gleick
Patently Abusrd — James Gleick March 12, 2000
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The Current U.S. System is Harming Innovation — Genuine Ideas December 20, 2005
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Weird Patents and Useful Inventions — Patently Absurd! November 29, 2003
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Patents v. Antipatents — Linux.Com September 01, 2000
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The Amazon Patent Controversy — Tim O'Reilly February 28, 2000