Time for a Prior Art Project?

by Kevin Bedell

Imagine that you owned a bakery and someone wrote you a letter asking for $100,000 because they said they owned a patent that your ovens violated. If you didn't pay, they might say, you'll be sued for significantly more and have your business shut down. What would you do?

Sound incredible? Well these kinds of lawsuits may be on the verge of exploding in the software industry.

How would it work? Well, imagine that someone filed for a patent on some area of XML parsing - or on some enhancement to web server software that later got incorporated into Apache. Or maybe they held a patent on some underlying technology incorporated in Linux.

These people could then 'pull an SCO', but potentially with a stronger case (some might say, with a *real* case when you consider what the SCO case is built on).

Worse, they could go after the open source developers themselves and potentially take their homes and savings (if they have any).

One of the best defenses against patent infringement is the establishment of what's called "Prior Art", or a demonstration that the patent the person holds is invalid because they tried to patent something that others had already done. In other words, Prior Art can render a patent invalid.

So how is Prior Art shown? Well, when you have a suit filed against you, you go out and try to determine what specifically the patent you're being sued under is about, then you try to find examples where software was available prior to the the patent filing that already implemented the technology that the patent covers.

If you can show Prior Art, then you're protected because the patent is the shown to be invalid.

Now, I'm not a lawyer and I may be misrepresenting some of the nuances of the process, but essentially that's how I understand it. Establishment of Prior Art is a critical strategy when defending yourself against patent lawsuits.

So here's my question: Why wait until the lawsuits strt flying for us (the open source community) to begin collecting Prior Art evidence? Why not begin now? Maybe more importantly, why haven't we already begun?

For example, someone in the open source community likely can determine when the first 'journaled file system' woas deployed in an open source project. A lot of that information is available in the old cvs trees of existing or dead open source projects.

Then if anyone ever filed a patent lawsuit on a journalled file system patent, we'd already have the information we need to etablish Pior Art in that case (if it were available).

There would be a huge benefit to the community if this were done. For example:

  • It would save open source projects potentially many thousands of dollars in doing this research on their own if they were sued for patent infringement.

  • It would avoid lawsuits being filed if this information were made publically available and patent holders could see that Prior Art had been found that preceeded the patents they held. If they knew they would lose, they wouldn't file suit.
  • If would make it much easier for open source projects to ensure they weren't violating patents. If there were place they could go to research what Prior Art exited in the specific area they were writing software for, then it would help them avoid infringing patents to begin with.

This kind of resource would go a long way toward helping the open source community minimize its patent lawsuit exposure.

And we need to get started. A lot of the 'Pior Art' may exist in the source trees of projects that are currently no longer in use. These old source trees -- and the innovative algorithms they contain -- may eventually be needed to establish Prior Art and protect an open source developer in the future. If they are lost or deleted, we may lose the Prior Art they can establish forever.

So, what would a 'Prior Art Project' contain? I believe it would contain an encyclopedia (wiki?) of algorithms sorted and retrievable in different ways. We need people who are familiar with old projects and old innovations to come forward and tell us of early and historical examples of particular algorithms for data communications, file management, I/O management, etc.

It might even be of use to identify all software patents in existence and build teams of people with the specific charge to invalidate them all by establishing specific Prior Art for each of them. At least then we'd know which of these patents were truly valid.

You see -- the Patent Office doesn't do a great job (putting it mildly here) of researching Prior Art in software patents. Their attitude is 'let the courts sort it out'.

Letting the courts sort it out gives the upper hand to patent holders that have legal staffs and deep pockets. It puts the open source community at an extreme advantage because most of us can't afford the million or so dollars it may cost to defend a patent lawsuit.

So why can't we take things into our own hands? Why can't we control our own destiny on this issue? If we as a community can find a way to organize this information in a usable way, then it may be our best defense once the lawsuits start flying.

The information is there -- it's just spread across the minds and old cvs trees of the developers who originally crafted these innovations. Why should we let corporations holding patents get credit for this work? Let's find a way to organize the information for our own protection before some critical pieces of it are lost forever.


2003-08-09 16:09:08
Chain of Custody
Interesting thought, but how legitimate are open source cvs trees from a forensic point of view? Would they stand up to the "chain of custody" requirements for admission as evidence in court?
2003-08-09 19:38:39
Chain of Custody
Not sure. Maybe in combination with old listserv archives? I'm no lawyer -- any reading here?

Certainly it would be better than nothing. And if it's all that exists, then it will have to do. It would save time researching when the time came if we at least got them all together and looked at them in light of innovations and patents.

These ideas are just gelling here - what kind of information could work?

2003-08-10 01:36:50
Fools game
What you are advocating is the spread butte defence(Hey SCO etc. here is our best defense, find the hole and win big) strategy. Don't give up your day job selling flood insurance.
2003-08-10 08:11:49
Fools game
Got a better idea? I'm all ears.

Seriously -

2003-08-10 08:23:40
Fools game
After thinking about your comments, I'm still convinced tht gathering all the information into a central place is of value. If there are holes, then that may just mean that a particular patent is valid.

The biggest value is just having a place for this stuff to live so that the information doesn't just get deleted and formatted over. Sort of an 'archive' where people can look in one place to find historical examples of algorithms and other 'patentable' IP.

And while there could be holes as you say, there may be many lawsuits *avoided* if a company finds that Prior Art to void their patent really exists.

Appreciate your comments, but I think there's value here anyway.

2003-08-10 08:50:34
Chain of Custody
I'm not a lawyer either, but I researched this topic a bit while writing my security encyclopedia. The way I understand it, chain of custody is the legal requirement that evidence submitted in court be accompanied by documentation of who had physical custody of that evidence and under what security conditions it was held by the parties holding it. I'd be interested if someone could step into this discussion and outline exactly how the cvs trees for some major open source project are stored, maintained, and kept secure...
2003-08-10 14:31:23
Offense or defense
While I can see potential merit in what you suggest, it seems like it would take a lot of effort and be a completely defensive endeavor. The SCO issue illustrates just how large the defensive effort is... We have no idea where the attacks will come. In addition, I would be warry of housing the community's defensive plan in the open. Having a graveyard site of CVS trees for projects which have been terminated is one thing. Having public, detailed outlines of what we think we can defend against is another. A CVS graveyard may be a good idea, but I would be interested to see how such a thing would hold up in court. CVS trees are just text files and the "ownership" is determined by a system specific login id. Not only could the id be changed at will with simple text processing tools but it would be very difficult to do large scale correlation of login ids to physical people.

The way that I see it, there may be some value to setting up such a graveyard repository. Making this the only strategy, though, admits defeat. The system needs to be changed. And the only thing that will change it is a grass roots movement that makes the politicians rethink their commitment to the "contributions" (ie. bribe money) provided to them by large corporations. People and businesses will continue to do this sort of thing for as long as it is allowed. The laws need to be changed so that it is not allowed.

There is a lot of anger out there over this and the related copyright issues. And there is good reason for the anger. What we are facing is the modern equivilent of organized crime and protection rackets. The difference is that there is not just "five families" to contend with. Almost anyone can join in and prey on others.

What I would like to see are people with PR backgrounds working for us to put a public face on the patent issues and organizing a plan for action. Not enough people know about this problem and what it means (outside of the software community at least). It would also be nice to see resources regarding who are the enemies in this battle. Are there politicians which are "ring leaders"? What companies should we absolutely be boycotting (I know "everyone" does it, but which ones are the most offensive)? It would just be nice to have the entire battle and what small steps we can take right now summarized on one site.

Anyway, this post is turning into a rant and that was not my intent. This issue just gets me riled up.

Terry Laurenzo

2003-08-10 17:40:38
Fools game
Offence is the best defense. When dealing with patents a fat patent portfolio of your own is a great offensive defence. IBM just used their huge patent portfolio to show SCO "what for". The FOSS community needs to build a patent porfolio, an impossible task under our traditional patent laws. You may be aware of the current push to enact software patent laws on every corner of the globe. Like it or not, that's where we're going.
Patent and Copyright laws were first created for the public good, where they granted a monopoly to inventors for a fixed number of years so they could profit from their brainchild after which time the idea became public domain. This concept has been so skewwed an abused in recent years that the original spirit has been lost. In the past, inventors had to clearly and plainly identify their inventions. Now, they are patenting closed source software. What kind of potluck "mystery meat" foolishness is that ? Coke and Pepsi never patented their cola formulas because back then they would have had to publish the formulas. Disney(with the help of some whores on the Patomac) just extended their IP on Mickey Mouse. What happend to public domain ? Walt Disney went to the american people and asked for the use of our courts and law enforcement to protect his IP for a fixed period of time. He new that when that time was up, Mickey would be in the public domain. No one can say he didn't profit from his brainchild. He never expected a perpetual monopoly. So much for that rant. You get the point.
Free Open Source Software first and foremost is meant for the public good. Isn't it interesting that current patent law has no provisions to protect something that is purely for the public good with no direct remuneration expected by the inventor.
Without some kind of IP law that protects this type of endevour, FOSS is doomed to fall prey to the deep pocketed blood sucking leaches like SCO. And let's not depend upon latching onto IBM for help like some barge barnicle because it's just a matter of time before they scrape FOSS off.
This is the core issue regarding the defense and future of FOSS. If you want to do something constructive. Instead of doing the enemies legwork spelling out our vulnerabillities for them, use your public forum to foster maybe a new patent classification for FOSS. Maybe something that incorporates the provisions of the GPL somehow. Taking into consideration free to use should also be free to apply for.
2003-08-10 19:12:16
The real issue - documenting and indexing ideas
What is being proposed here is essentially a centralized repository that indexes the ideas embedded in the source code of open source (and possibly closed source) applications.

And while this is obviously useful for the legal puposes outlined in the blog, it is a much greater thing that just that. For the proposal to be at all effective, it would have to be implemented in such a way that would immediately open the doors to all sorts of other uses, as a repository of ideas for students and programmers to browse and incorporate into their own projects.

One of the chief problems with computer science, and computing in general, is that, (especially before open source came around) there isn't much in the way of computerized sharing of information, and the wheel gets reinvented for every project.

With open source, the source code gets shared, but ideas contained in the source code are still locked away from anyone but the most dedicated student. The community as a whole needs to come up with a system and culture that fosters sharing the knowledge contained within projects.

2003-08-11 01:05:53
Such a project already exists...
... just take a look at http://www.ip.com/.
I'm surprised noone mentionned this site before.
Sure, downloading the existing documents is not free, let alone publishing your own prior art (about $150). But hey! It takes actual paper-publishing to have prior art validated by a court. And that's what you pay for at IP.com. So far, online publishing is not considered reliable as far as publishing dates are concerned (how are you going to prove that such or such project was added to the database 4 years ago and just not yesterday?)

Unless somebody comes up with a cheap way of reliably time-stamping online documents on the net, and has this process validated in court, it is likely that www.ip.com is still the best (most affordable and reliable) solution for those of us who cannot afford to file a patent on their invetion.

2003-08-11 01:06:48
Such a project already exists...
... just take a look at http://www.ip.com/.
I'm surprised noone mentionned this site before.
Sure, downloading the existing documents is not free, let alone publishing your own prior art (about $150). But hey! It takes actual paper-publishing to have prior art validated by a court. And that's what you pay for at IP.com. So far, online publishing is not considered reliable as far as publishing dates are concerned (how are you going to prove that such or such project was added to the database 4 years ago and just not yesterday?)

Unless somebody comes up with a cheap way of reliably time-stamping online documents on the net, and has this process validated in court, it is likely that www.ip.com is still the best (most affordable and reliable) solution for those of us who cannot afford to file a patent on their invetion.

2003-08-12 13:06:00
The REAL problem is the US Patent Office
The US Patent Office used to not issue patents on software code saying something along the lines of, "Its a set of instructions similar to a recipe. Its already protected under Copyright law and thus, does not need a patent." At least, that's how it used to be. Now, you wouldn't believe some of the things that the Patent Office has issued patents for. Priceline.com sued Expedia.com saying they'd already patented the business method of using the Internet to search for the lowest price.
2003-08-13 15:00:34
Good software patents, however, SHOULD be granted.
There's no question that many software patents which issue from the USPTO should never have been granted. However, even as they condemn invalid software patents, programmers should rally behind valid ones and the inventors who receive them. Today, any programmer's livelihood can be completely destroyed by the creation of a GPLed equivalent of his work (perhaps by a competitor or by zealots who simply wish to put him out of business because they believe that selling software is "evil", as Stallman does). If this doesn't happen, Microsoft can crush him. Or his job can easily be shipped overseas. Software patents are one of the few effective defenses against these nefarious tactics, and programmers should support them for this reason.
2003-09-10 11:26:47
I started my website 4 weeks ago in response to Acacia and other patent (abuse) holders who claim ownership to the downloading/streaming of audio/video files from a (web) server. My personal crusade has been to bring awareness of these issues to people and to help search for prior art to support the defendants of Acacia's lawsuits (and others).

A Prior Art Database would be great to have.. besides IP.com, there are some other smaller projects trying to do the same.

I agree with some of the posters that the answer is to take an offensive stance against patent (abuse) holders.

To actively help in finding prior art. This is what I have been doing as a personal mission. Some of sent me feedback to suggest that I should be getting paid for my research efforts to find prior art.

The reason that I have stopped doing my consulting and working on my side ventures is because my good conscious calls me to fight against patents that claim ownership to ideas and processes that existed before their filing data.

I have been on the internet since 1989 [founded and floundered a dot-com], and on BBS for many years before that. So much of what the world knows as the web, is just old technology like gopher, ftp, etc with a graphical interface.

I realize there are so many patent (abuse) cases out there. If you have audio or video files on your website, then you should be reading up on the 3 companies that are currently in litigation over their claims patent infringements.



2005-03-11 20:58:50
If only it were so easy.
I, and my company, have developed and are marketing software. Some company has decided that my software infringes on their patent. It doesn't, it doesn't come close. Dispite this, and dispite the fact that I have clearly showed them why my software does not infringe, they are going to my customer base and demanding that they cease and decist using my software, or my customers will face a lawsuit. I have talked with lawyers about this matter. The lawyers basically say that I can file suit against them, and get a court to determine that I am not infringing on their patent. I have not remedy, or at least no significant remedy, to recover the costs resulting from this frivolous claim.

This is bogus! The holder of the patent has become judge, jury and hangman.

If people are knowingly making false accusations of patent infringement to third parties, the courts need to respond to them with significant punitive damages. If there are no punitives, there is no risk to make silly accusations all over the place. If there are no punitives, there is no motivation for lawyers to take such cases on contingency. If it costs $1M+ to defend yourself against false and frivolous claims of patent infringement, I don't believe that your prior art project will help one iota. You'll still have to spend the $1M to prove that the prior art nullifies the patent.

2005-03-11 21:02:50
The REAL problem is the US Patent Office
I think otherwise. The real problem is the courts. There is real risk on the part of the patent owner when accusing others of breaching their patent. As it sits, if I say to some company, "hey, you're breaching my patent," the company has to defend itself, to the tune of about $1M. When he proves that he is not infringing, he takes his legal bills, and goes home. The courts must whale on those making frivolous claims of patent infringement. If patent owners are a bit more cautious, balance will return to the system.
2005-08-15 17:16:57
Prior Art
Prior Art for Patentbusters

Prior Art Materials have fascinated me for years and I have accumulated library of over 250,000 Consumer Product and Wholesale Trade catalogs, ( I've lost Count). Until last week, I have NEVER used them for Prior Art searches outside my own work as a product designer.

I also collect interesting prior art product samples of which I have over 35,000 samples from the fields of Toys, Games, Cooking Appliances, Cell Phones, Corded Phones, Arts and Crafts Products, Consumer Electronics, Radios, Sporting Goods, Exercise Equipment, Tools, Gadgets, Automotive, Photography, Plumbing, Clothing, Jewelry, Gizmos, Novelties, Video Games, Seasonal Products, Stationery and lots more.

I am in the process of helping someone overcome the claims in a patent filed on a type of writing instrument filed in 1998. This is my VERY first effort at Patentbusting.

I have sent over 30 prior art references to him and I have just scratched the surface. Since his case is still pending in the courts, but obviously now overcome, I won't give out his info, yet.

This company owner called me out of the blue because he had heard about my collection. He and his attorneys had pursued every avenue and spent a half a million dollars trying to overcome the patent claims to save his company.

I e-mailed 5 dated catalog prior art product references in the first 30 minutes.

He suggested that I get the word out about my prior art catalogue collection to help other small business owners as nothing in the world exists like it.

I have always enjoyed reading and collecting catalogs. I have been reading them for several hours a day for at least 35 years. I have a photographic memory and can remember and draw anything that I have ever seen.

I'm now 42. I am a product designer for a living. I mostly create decorative Consumer products. I have designed a substantial amount of Walt Disney, Looney Tunes, Crayola, and many other licensed products.

I have several patents and more pending. The first person that I have ever helped find prior art has begged me to start offering a service to search through my 30 year collection of millions of catalog pages. He says if he had known about me a year ago, I would have saved him hundreds of thousands of dollars and that my work would especially benefit the small business owners in a jam with little money to defend themselves to help fight the patent.

I also pay for 3,500 square feet of space to house my prior art catalog collection. I need more space and can't afford it. If I could do some searches, I'll be able to get the space I need and buy more acid free catalog boxes. My collection is growing by 1,000 catalogs per week, and I need to get some help sorting and cataloging what I have.

I began to collect for my own personal enjoyment. The Catalogs have proved invaluable to me for prior art research purposes related to my own patents. I have about 8 issued patents with several more pending. I am hoping to offer to search for prior art for others on a case by case basis. Having my own patents gives me a background of what may be regarded as valid prior art.

My collection has vintage to brand new catalogs, both retail mail order catalogs and wholesale trade catalogs. I have been a collector of catalogs for nearly 30 years.

Some More About My Collection.

I have 1000's of catalog titles in my prior art search collection. Many of the catalogs are in very long runs covering years of publication. Some are vintage going back to the 20's right up to present times.

Regarding Toy Catalogs alone, I have Toy Fair and Pre- Toy Fair Issues from the 40's 50's 60's 70's 80's 90's 2000's. I literally have 10's of thousands of wholesale, trade and retail toy catalogs.

Only some of the over 2,000 titles in my Toy Catalog part of my Collection include;

Milton Bradley Toy Catalogs,
Kenner Toy Catalogs,
Pressman Toy Catalogs,
Coleco Toy Catalogs,
Ideal Toys Catalogs,
Tomy Toys Catalogs,
Selchow and Righter Catalogs
Little Tikes Catalogs,
Parker Brothers Bros. Catalogs
Dakin Catalogs,
Steiff Catalogues,
Applause Catalogs
Trendmaster Catalogs,
Ty Beanie Baby Catalogs,
Nasta Catalogues,
Fun 4 All Catalogs
Blue Box Catalogs
Kusan Catalogs,
HG Toy Catalogs
Laramie Catalogs,
Oddz On Catalogs,
Basic Fun Catalogs,
Amloid Catalogs,
Sears and Roebuck Christmas Wish Books,
J.C. Penney Christmas Toy Books,
Montgomery Ward Christmas Books,
Fisher Price Toy Catalogs,
Hasbro Toy Catalogs,
Mattel Toy Catalogs,
Playschool Toy Catalogs,
Spinmaster Toy Catalogs,
Disney Store Catalogs
Doll Catalogs,
Plush Toy Catalogs,
Model Car Catalogs,

I have Toy Catalogs galore from Japan, Germany, Brazil, England, Italy, China and more.

The toy catalogs are just one catagory in my vast collection.
I have been a serious collector for over twenty years.

I have literally thousands of toy samples made over the past 100 years as prior art product reference.

Electronic Plush Toys, over 500 different
Board Games, over 1,000 different samples
Water Sprinklers,
Play Sets,
Building Toys, RC Vehicles,
Arts and Crafts Products,
Drawing Sets,
Learning Toys,
Electronic Toys,
Leap Pad Like Products going back 40 years,
Sports Toys and Balls, Puzzles,
Kid's Furniture, Kid's Girls Jewelry Making Sets kits,
Painting Sets,
Activity Sets, Electronic Building Sets

I also have at least 200,000 catalogs in just about every other product category.

Clothing Catalogs also are included in my VAST prior art catalog research collection.

I have 1,000's and 1,000's of clothing catalogs from the 1880's to the present, vintage to modern. Clothing catalogs are more important to an inventor than you might think. There have been tens of thousands of patents on clothing and accessories.

I have 100's of titles with many nearly complete runs covering decades of some titles;

L.L. Bean Catalogs,
Orvis Catalogs,
Land's End Catalogs,
Sports Pages,
The Sporting Life Catalogs
Victoria's Secret,
Brooks Brothers,
Harley Davidson Clothing Catalogs,
Children's Clothing Catalogs
Abercrombie and Fitch,
Appleseed's Catalogs
Johnny Appleseed's Catalogs
Old Pueblo Traders Catalogs
Unique Petite Catalogs
Speigel Catalogs,
Bloomingdales Catalogues,
Sears Catalogs,
Montgomery Ward's Catalogs
J.C. Penney Catalogs
Playboy Catalog Catalogs
International Male Catalogs
I. Magnin Catalogs Catalogs

Literally hundreds more titles. It's fun to search through old catalogs.
It is a fun resource and gives great insight to all the prior art out there to discover.

Tennis Wear Catalogs, Formal Wear Catalogs, Shoe Catalogs, Accessory Catalogs, Watch Catalogs, Handbag Catalogs, Purse Catalogs and many many more!!! The catalog collection might be useful for film producers to research fashions for period movies as well.

My personal Prior Art Patent Search Library of Vintage to modern Catalogs ( Retail and Wholesale Trade Catalogs)also includes vast numbers of;

Cooking Catalogs
Chef's catalogs
Williams and Sonoma, Hundreds
Tool Catalogs,
Gadget Catalogs
JS&A Catalogs, entire run
Sharper Image Catalogs, Over 200 different issues back to number one.
Brookstone Catalogs
Hammacher Schlemmer Catalogs
FAO Schwarz Catalogs
Trading Stamp Catalogs
S&H Green Stamp Catalogs
Plaid Stamps Catalogs
King Korn Stamp Catalogs
Top Value Stamp Catalogs
Cigarette Premium Catalogs
Marlboro Miles and Gear Catalogs, All copies
Camel Catalogs, All Copies to date
Alcohol Related Gifts and Novelty catalogs
Budweiser Catalogs
Coca Cola Collectibles Catalogs
Belnap Catalogs
Furniture Catalogs
Jewelry Catalogs
Lawn and Garden Catalogs,
Consumer Electronics Catalogs,
Telephone Catalogs,
Radio Shack Catalogs,
Garden Catalogs
Gardening Catalogs,
Home Improvement Catalogs,
Plumbing Catalogs,
Giftware Catalogs,
Novelty Catalogs, Cookware Catalogs,
Kitchen Utensil Catalogs,
Automotive Accessory Catalogs.
Video Game Catalogs,
100's of licensed character style guides,
Tupperware Catalogs

More than 80% of the consumer products that were sold in the past 100 years that were genuinely worthy of a patent were never patented. The only record that these products ever existed may be found in consumer or trade wholesale catalogs. Except for my catalog Collection, I am unaware of the existence of other comprehensive retail and trade wholesale catalog collection in the world.

Trade wholesale catalogs for most consumer products industries hold a very important secret. About 10-25% of all items offered to the trade by manufacturers were never sold or made. The price may have been too high, or the design wasn't "Sparkling" enough or perhaps the item was just ahead of it's time. These unknown catalog listings and descriptions hold the most valuable key to catalog prior art searches.

Catalogs are a very valuable tool to find true product introduction dates. A patent must be filed within a year of being shown publicly. I have noticed literally HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of products that were filed for US patents two or more years from the catalog introduction date.

Often patents are filed before the catalog introduction for electronic devices. Afterwards, the designs are constantly improved during, for example, a ten year life span. However the subtle changes made in years two and three are not properly filed for an improvement patent UNTIL year 7 or year 8. Catalog descriptions PROMINENTLY feature the new "Improvements" as a selling tool. I notice this pattern occurring literally hundreds of times across all industries. How would you know about the invalid late patent filing without a catalog reference?

Catalogs can determine the state of existing product design from any time period, and what should have been considered "Obvious" at the time.

Children's toy versions of consumer products may hold the keys to overcoming patents filed on the genuine "made for grown-up market" items. There are over 5,000 different toy companies that have come and gone worldwide in the 20th century. At least 100 toy companies made unusual toy cell phones that were never patented. How many of these could be used against Utility or Design Patents filed today? Toy Computers? Toy Cameras? The list is endless.

The Prior Art Search Catalog Collection also includes an astonishing collection of all known important, ( and some obscure), working video game systems, controllers, packaging, literature and rare accessories and probably over 2,500 total different games for;

Atari, Atari 2600, Atari 7800

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Nintendo Virtual Boy 3-D Visor Game, Game Boy Advance, N 64, Game Cube, Gameboy Advance SP, Nintendo DS

Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Sega CD, Sega 32X, Sega Game Gear, Sega Nomad, Sega Dreamcast

Sony Playstation, PS2, ( And several odd systems that failed, Turbo Graphix 16, Mattel Intellivision, etc.)

Games may be important to overcome screen icon design patents as well as many other patents related to methods. I have several dozen handheld video game toys with lots of catalog references;
Tomy, Tiger, MGA, Vanity Fair, Mattel, and many others.


The Collection includes 20 or so vintage PDA Devices, Da Vinci, Palm Pilots, Scion Devices, Apple Newtons, and some odd older units. Accessories for PDA's include Folding Keyboards, Projection Keyboards, Roll up vinyl keyboards, cameras, fax modems, cell phone links for data transmission and more. The collection also includes a number of child's toy PDA's that used some very clever techniques BEFORE they were introduced in the business versions.

Cell Phones

Over 70 vintage cell phones and literature that accompanied them from the big "Bricks" to the Blackberry. Phones in Bags, First Camera Phones, etc. Many have unusual accessories, instructions, packaging, early contract paperwork for plans, and more. The collection includes one of the very first cell phones that was ever in service, from an NYC limo. The entire setup including the trunk mounted receiver weighs over 75 lbs without a battery.


the Collection maintains a perfectly working collection of 30 computers back to the Osborne portables, Most Mac Models including the Lisa, Early 5.25 inch disc Apple Series Machines, Commodore 64, Vic 20, Atari brand Computer Systems, and a variety of PC's running every important, and some rare versions of operating systems including;

Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows 3.11, Windows 95, Windows 95 USB Enabled, Windows 95 Y2K Edition, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows NT ( Several Versions), Windows XP, every version of DOS.

All software is from original source discs or tapes with matching keys. I have NO copy software in my collection.

These computers are used to demonstrate and to test all of the unusual programs and accessories that were available throughout computer history. Included is a fair collection of computer games, ( About 400 different).

The computer sample collection includes many unusual and forgotten accessories. The collection includes at least 12 Laptop Computers from history, First Macintosh Portable, First Mac Notebook size, First HP Portable, and many others. External Drives, Obsolete Tape and Disc Storage readers.


Nixie Tube Calculators, Red LED calculators, Specialty and engineering calculators, mechanical adding machines; Toy Calculators with games, watch calculators, pen calculators and more.

I'm always looking for catalogs to add to my collection!!

I probably the world's largest, and least known, collection of prior art patent research reference material, Catalogs and Samples.

If Patent Prior Art Help is needed, Please contact me. I am brand new at this, however, I believe that my collection could prove to be a huge benefit to society.

Please contact me at;


Best Regards,
Mike Wotton