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Patent re-examination - PanIP

PanIP re-examinations

These re-examinations were requested by the PanIP Group Defense Fund (PGDF) and by Debrand Fine Chocolates which was the most active member of the PGDF.

5,576,951

This re-examination takes place with an application number 90/006,625.

Request

The requesters found that claims 1-4 and 5-10 of 5,576,951 were anticipated by printed publications:

I found this detailed list in a notice of references cited. These printed publications are not in the prosecution history of 90/006,625. I discuss their content in the section about the re-examination of 6,289,319.

Though 5,576,951 was filed on March 16, 1994 its priority date was May 24, 1984 because it was a continuation-in-part of a continuation of a continuation-in-part of a continuation-in-part of a continuation-in-part of an application. 5,576,951 contains 10 claims, two independent claims 1 and 10 and eight claims depending on claim 1. So requesters focused on claims 1 and 10 and compared elements of claims 1 and 10 to the corresponding structures in the cited printed publications. They found that all publications described all elements in claim 1 and 10.

Claim 1 claims a "computer search system for retrieving information, comprising:

Claim 10 claims a "computerized system for selecting and ordering a variety of information, goods and services, which comprises:

Non-final action

The re-examination was ordered and subsequently the examiner issued a non-final action. He found that another printed publication, "Implications of consumer information processing for the design of consumer information systems" by Gabriel Biehal, The Journal of consumer affairs, Vol 17, No 1 published in 1983, anticipated claims 1-4 and 6-10. The examiner further found that claim 5 was obvious over Biehal in view of the Globecom conference record.

6,289,319

This re-examination takes place with an application number 90/006,623.

Request

The requesters found that claim 1 was anticipated by printed publications:

The requesters found that claims 3-6 were obvious over printed publications:

in view of the following printed publications:

At the time of writing all these documents and more were public:

These written publications relate:

  1. for the online aspect to the first end-consumer online service to be widely used, the Videotex,

  2. for the video to presentation of video devices.

The Videotex was a standard that used to be popular in France (Teletel) and substantially less in UK (Prestel) and elsewhere. The reason was that the French Telco, France Telecom gave a Videotex device, the Minitel, for free to its subscribers. The Minitel differed from the Web in the following ways:

  1. It was easy for a provider to make money with Minitel. France Telecom was collecting the money from the subscriber (this was on his phone bill).

  2. The use cost of the Minitel was quite high for the subscriber (sometime $1 per minute.)

  3. Graphics were terrible and screens were displaying 40 characters per line.

Though Videotex had fewer users than the Web it was providing essentially the same service and designers had to solve essentially the same problems.

Technically Videotex was involving the following equipment:

  1. a central computer, typically an IBM mainframe (S370) running a transaction monitor connected to a database, with a network front-end (3725) or a minicomputer (VAX) connected to an X25 public network,

  2. the public X25 network,

  3. a Packet Assembler/Disassembler (PAD) to convert between X25 and asynchronous,

  4. a dumb device with typically a 75/1200bps modem (V23).

The complication of the apparatus came from the necessity to minimize the bandwidth need and the device cost. However the main components, a public network, servers and clients were the same as for the Web. Usually Videotex inventions were not patented. However there is not so much public prior art for the following reasons:

  1. lack of easy-to-use authoring tools and of standardized document formats;

  2. tedious publication process and secrecy policy, the rare documents were kept secret;

  3. lack of archiving and indexing means due to the cost of hardware and especially of hard disks.

On the other hand articles, presentations and guides were explaining the systems’ designs in more details than today for the following reasons:

  1. people were not Intellectual Property aware;

  2. there were no technical writers and no experience in the art of explaining just what is needed to use a system;

  3. early adopters were technicians that had to convinced of the value of the implementation, a vendor had to explain how its system was working.

Requesters relied precisely on such documents.

Though 6,289,319 was filed on November 30, 1994 its priority date was May 24, 1984 because it was a continuation of a continuation of a continuation of a continuation of a continuation-in-part of an application. 6,289,319 contains 6 claims, the independent claim 1 and five dependent claims. So requesters focused on claim 1 and compared elements of claim 1 to the corresponding structures in the cited printed publications. They found that the following references described all elements in claim 1:

Requesters further found that the Electronic Mall document described all elements in claim 1 and that claim 1 was obvious over the Comp-U-Store, GlobeCom, Discount Store News and Electronic Mall documents.

Claim 1 reads:

"An automatic data processing system for processing business and financial transactions between entities from remote sites which comprises:

whereby said system can be used by said entities, each using one of said terminals to exchange information, and to respond to inquiries and orders instantaneously and over a period of time.

The requesters further explained why they found that claims 3-6 were obvious over printed publications.

Re-examination ordered

The examiner found that the requester raised a substantial question of patentability, and ordered the re-examination.

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