Sunday, May 2, 2010

Collaborative Work or Is It? - Business Method MondayFor this post, I'll investigate two examples of art that USPTO has reclassified into 705/300, Co

For this post, I'll investigate two examples of art that USPTO has reclassified into 705/300, Collaborative creation of a product or a service. This is one of the new subclasses Sean touched on in his March 29, 2010 post.

As a refresher, art classified in 705/300 must be ". . . drawn to a computerized arrangement for initial conceptual development, through cooperation between plural parties, (e.g., brainstorming, idea development, etc.), of a commodity or of work that can be performed for another."

As of the day that I'm writing this (April 30), USPTO has not placed any issued patents into this class (in all likelihood because they are still reclassifying the patents that will eventually end up there), as shown by running a search in the USPTO Full Text and Image Database (search criterion CCL/705/300; alternatively, click on the 'P' icon adjacent to 705/300 in the Manual of Classification). Forty-one (41) applications have been placed here (using the 'P' icon link).

Application 20100094761, "Method for User Driven Product Design and Marketing", is for collaborative product development using ad-hoc user groups. Claim 1 provides for ". . . selecting a product theme as a request for proposals to a plurality of individuals enabling said individuals to edit some, all, or none of said submissions and submit the resulting product as a new product submission . . ." This is a good example of the art defined by the definition summarized above. Dependent claim 3 additionally emphasizes collaboration in product theme selection ". . . to be conducted in any manner by some plurality of individuals including an unrelated third party, authors of said request for proposals, and the plurality of individuals responding to the request for proposals."

Application 20070239464, "Networked System and Method for Formulating, Processing and Managing Challenges and Solutions", provides for formulating, processing and managing challenges and solutions, and has been classified by USPTO as 705/300, with no cross-reference classifications. This application appears to be a good example of conflicts in the new 705/300-348 portion of the business methods schedule with subclasses higher in the schedule. Both Sean & I alluded to these conflicts in our recently completed 5-part series.

Claim 1 of this application allows a user ". . . to select whether to create a new challenge or work with an existing challenge that has previously been stored . . ." So far, so good -- this appears to be captured by the 705/300 definition. However, reading further in the claim, a series of interface prompts are provided to the user, one of those prompts being " . . . a resources required prompt . . .", and another being ". . . a potential available resources prompt . . ." The claim concludes by ". . . receiving user input in response to the prompts . . . " The resources referred to are defined in paragraph 28 of the Summary of the Invention as ". . . human resources, equipments, laboratory, computer processing, storage capacity, or other resources likely to be required to address the challenge." These resources, and their allocation as defined in claim 1, are clearly captured by 705/8 Allocating resources or scheduling for an administrative function, which is defined as ". . . the distribution of resources or for scheduling in a business or commercial environment." Thus, this application should have been placed by USPTO in 705/8, with a cross-reference to 705/300.

Conflicts within schedules subject to reclassification projects will continue until the USPTO takes a more comprehensive approach to reviewing entire class schedules with a goal of eliminating internal conflicts, and ensures adequate and accurate communication among all the parties involved (project managers, examiners and classification staff across all the affected General Art Units, contracting officers, and contractors). Inventors and assignees assume the risk that their inventions will not be examined against the proper art.

Today's post is by Mike Bowman.

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