We had two superb lectures today that were superb for different reasons.
The first lecture concerned going from first seeing a case sitting in your docket up to the search. Not that we haven’t been presented with how to do an inventor search, or how to check the IFW for completeness, or all sorts of other little things. But we hadn’t yet learned when to use all these little things, nor had we seen them put together in a complete package or checklist fashion so that we could do all the necessary prep-work that must be done before one starts searching.
While this might seem a little silly, picture going through a computer-building 101 style course, wherein you learn what a video card is, what a hard drive is, what a processor is, what memory does, etc. But the whole point of the class is to actually assemble a computer. So sure, you have to know what all the parts are, and you’re glad to know it. Four or five weeks into the course, however, you start looking down the horizon and you realize that sooner or later, someone’s going to actually ask you to put some of these things together and ship them off to a customer somewhere. You start wondering: “But… how do I actually use all of this information? What do I put in first, the hard drive or the memory? How do I make sure it’s all right?”
And really, the answers to some of those questions might be “it doesn’t matter,” but you still want them answered. You want a process you can follow to get from point A to point B. That is what this lecture provided. Our lecturer laid everything out into a series of steps that were logically connected, and which also had good safety bounds so that you would have a good idea when to stop and ask for help. Even when you have a lot of leeway on production, like we do right now, you don’t want to take any longer than necessary to do a good, complete job. Doing things out of order, or missing show-stoppers that you could’ve found in an hour instead of in four really make it really difficult to be efficient.
The second lecture was 103 part 2, which gave us some practical examples of showing a combination as well as introduced us to 103(c). And while I appreciated the practical examples greatly, I think one of the best things that came out of the lecture was that many of us learned what we didn’t know about 102, and about claim limitations. Some of it we had definitely gone over in earlier lectures, but “out of sight, out of mind.” If you don’t refresh that information periodically, it is very easy to forget it. Some of it I don’t think we really covered with the level of depth that our lecturer was expecting. So, luckily, he asks us questions and is therefore able to gauge how much we know.
And I’d much rather figure that out now, than waiting until later.
Non-IP person translation of key terms:
inventor search: checking to see what other applications the inventor has filed or what patents he has been granted.
IFW: Image File Wrapper. This is the electronic “folder” of information that gets scanned in from the paper or electronic application. There can be errors in scanning or filing, so you have to check that everything is there.