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Discussion of all things patent mapping and analytics.
Do you know anybody who might scan and email documents? Might even do it yourself?
Arstechnica recently reported on "Project Paperless", a group that had been* asserting a patent against smaller companies in the United States, that claimed to own a patent on the process for using a scanner to scan and email a document. This is a great read and highly recommended, especially if you are the recipient of a letter from Project Paperless or any other companies asserting this patent (further information on Project Paperless, and the attorney firm associated with it, is found here).
Hard to believe? Well, Project Paperless is correct is that there is a granted US patent, US7986426 ('426), that appears to cover just that (along with US patents US7477410, US6771381 and US6185590, and there is a patent pending). The first claim of patent '426 covers
1. A computer data management system including at least one of an electronic image, graphics and document management system capable of transmitting at least one of an electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document to a plurality of external destinations including one or more of external devices and applications responsively connectable to at least one of locally and via Internet, comprising:
at least one scanner, digital copier or other multifunction peripheral capable of rendering at least one of said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document;
at least one memory storing a plurality of interface protocols for interfacing and communicating;
at least one processor responsively connectable to said at least one memory, and implementing the plurality of interface protocols as a software application for interfacing and communicating with the plurality of external destinations including the one or more of the external devices and applications,
wherein the computer data management system includes integration of at least one of said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document using software so that said electronic image, electronic graphics and electronic document gets seamlessly replicated and transmitted to at least one of said plurality of external destinations.
Is this patent novel?
AmberScope is a patent search tool that can said lawyers and the clients they assist to identify prior art that may invalidate this patent (and which has its listed filing date of December 2008, but an earliest listed priority date of October 1996, as do the other patents listed)
As previously discussed, AmberScope works by displaying patents either directly or indirectly connnected to a patent of interest. In this case, we enter the patent number US7986426 into an AmberScope search box.
This picture shows the title details for the patent we started with, US7986426, and all of the patents directly connected to this. Each of the patents in this case that is directly connected to the '426 patent is a backward citation.
And by moving the mouse (within AmberScope) over the other dots, the title boxes for these patents opens up, for example as shown in the image below.
And when this patent is reviewed in detail (just select the "Details" button in the title box, and a second window showing the patent details in Google patent opens up), it does not appear to directly disclose the '486 patent. Which is not surprising - if it did directly disclose the '486 patent, the 486 patent might not be granted.
However what we also see in the above pictures are greyed out patents. These are what we call 'ghost patents', and refer to patents that are:
Again, by moving a mouse over this patents in the on-screen version of AmberScope, the title box opens up for these.
And these ghost patents includes US5513126, also owned by Xerox, as shown below.
This Xerox patent covers:
A method for a sender to automatically distribute information to a receiver on a network using devices (such as printers and facsimile machines) and communication channels (such as electronic mail) defined in a receiver profile
as described in the picture below:
And in my mind, looks pretty relevant as prior art to the '486 patent. And for the record, this patent was filed in October 1993, and published in the US in April 1996 (and in Japan as JP7177158 in July 1995, i.e. 13 years before the 2008 filing date of US7986426, and over 12 months prior to the earliest listed priority date of 18 October 1996).
The Xerox patent is doubly useful as it is connected to 351 other patents, many of which may be in the same area, as shown in the 'more' box below. Pressing this button can help bring these patents up.
The AmberScope patent network when refocussed on this patent looks like this:
351 patents looks a lot to go through, but this is easy to manage in practice. For example, using the filing year filter, we can hide all patents filed after 1996.
Which makes the numbers of patents much more manageable. There is also the option of the 'Next" button, which systematically opens up patent title boxes in this network, in the order of AmberScore value.
By doing so, the following patents of potential relevance come up:
And we could keep searching, but this is just a sample of how easy it can be to search for patents with AmberScope.
This AmberScope search strategy is shown in the image below.
Interesting in trying AmberScope for yourself? Take advantage of our free beta trial - simply register your details at amberscope.com, and start using it.
* Note - An assignment filed in September 2012 assigned the ownership of US7986426 and the other "Project Paperless" patents listed above to MPHJ Technology Investments, a Deleware Corporation. It is not known what the relationship is between MPHJ Investments and Project Paperless.
March 2013 update - some of the images shown above feature quite crowded patent landscapes. Thanks to an update in AmberScope introduced in February 2013, the same search would show a less crowded landscape which would be easier to navigate and faster to load - but still produce the same outcomes.
Ambercite and its products including Network Patent Analysis (NPA) and AmberScope analyse patent data using a statistical based approach that is based on available patent citation and ownership data. These outputs are purely mathematical in nature, and do not take into account the personal or professional opinions of any individuals or associates of Ambercite. These outputs are intended to be used as tool to help support further analysis, and should not be used by itself and without professional advice on the relevancy of this data to your unique circumstances. Data should not be relied upon to prove without any further analysis any opinion of the value, patentability, validity, freedom to operate or infringement of any patent, patents or inventions. Users should also be aware that available patent citation data is imperfect, and this will affect the results of this analysis. © Patent Analytics Holding Pty Ltd. Ambercite™, Network Patent Analysis™, NPA™ and Next Generation Patent mapping™ are trade marks of Patent Analytics Holding Pty Ltd. Components of the processes used to perform Network Patent Analysis and AmberScope are the subject of patent applications filed in the United States and elsewhere.