Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

PTO Community Examination Project

Posted in General Commentary, Practice Commentary by Mike Dockins on March 7, 2007

As many may know, the Patent and Trademark Office is starting a pilot project for the community examination of patent applications. The project is scheduled to begin in the spring and evolved from meeting attended by the top recipient of U.S. patents for 14 years running, IBM, and New York Law School Professor Beth Simone Noveck. The patent applications will be posted on the Web and comments on the application will be invited. Further, a community rating system is part of the posting process and is designed to highlight the best comments for serious consideration by the Examiners. Registered participants for the project will vote on the information submitted, and the top 10 items will be passed on to the Examiner for consideration.

Similar to the feedback system utilized by Ebay, the system will separate experts in the field of the application and in patent prosecution from neophytes by offering extensive details about the information contributor. To help others evaluate the prior art cited against a patent, each posting will include measures gauging the quality of his other contributions to the site, such as “gold stars” given by the Examiners to contributors who have previously submitted useful information in prosecution of a previous application.

The implications for the project, if ultimately adopted on a full-time basis, are numerous. First, the level of gamesmanship between business rivals could reach a new level; each business may try to invalidate the other’s application to prevent them from obtaining “the next big thing”. Second, a patent application that may normally issue into a patent may now be blocked by an obscure piece of prior art found during the community review. Third, and arguably most importantly, under the “watchful eye” of a community of experts and novices, a massive amount of prior art previously unavailable to an Examiner may become available delaying prosecution and increasing the cost thereof, possibly to the detriment of small business.

On the other hand, the project may be beneficial. Presumably, any patent that issues after running through the project would be a strong patent having survived a more rigorous prosecution. Also, any company that allows its “next big thing” to be a part of the prosecution would certainly get some publicity and attention on the web. Such attention may be beneficial in gaining brand recognition, market share, and an increased perception of the innovation and R&D of the business.

The Community Examination Project should be a fun experiment, so hold on… it should be a fun ride.

They Invented What? (No. 38)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on March 7, 2007

JW Note:  Sometimes I worry about the progress of science and the useful arts.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,666,425:  Device for perfusing an animal head.



This invention involves a device, referred to herein as a “cabinet,” which provides physical and biochemical support for an animal’s head which has been “discorporated” (i.e., severed from its body). This device can be used to supply a discorped head with oxygenated blood and nutrients, by means of tubes connected to arteries which pass through the neck. After circulating through the head, the deoxygenated blood returns to the cabinet by means of cannulae which are connected to veins that emerge from the neck. A series of processing components removes carbon dioxide and add oxygen to the blood. If desired, waste products and other metabolites may be removed from the blood, and nutrients, therapeutic or experimental drugs, anti-coagulants, and other substances may be added to the blood. The replenished blood is returned to the discorped head via cannulae attached to arteries. The cabinet provides physical support for the head, by means of a collar around the neck, pins attached to one or more vertebrae, or similar mechanical means. 


1. A device for maintaining metabolic activity in a mammalian head which has been severed from its body at its neck, comprising the following components: a. veinous cannulae which are capable of being attached to veins which pass through the neck and receiving blood from the veins; b. arterial cannulae which are capable of being attached to arteries which pass through the neck and transporting blood into the arteries; c. an oxygenation device which is in fluid communication with the veinous and arterial cannulae, and which is capable of displacing carbon dioxide contained in the blood with oxygen; d. one or more pumps of a selected type which causes relatively low levels of damage to blood components; e. fluid conduits which are attached to each of the components listed above in a manner such that the components, when coupled to the veins and arteries of a severed head by means of the cannulae of parts (a) and (b), will form a system capable of circulating blood through the oxygenation device and through the head after the head has been severed from the body; and, f. means for securely mounting the head upon the device after the head has been severed from the body, in a position such that the veins and arteries which emerge from the head can be connected to the veinous and arterial cannulae.