Got IT Secrets? This Web Site Will Reward You Handsomely

Article One Partners is encouraging people to contribute their knowledge of "prior art" of important intellectual property.
With patent infringement lawsuits involving technology increasingly flooding the U.S. District Court system and often resulting in breathtaking payments to successful litigants, a former patent lawyer sees an opening to intervene in some cases by finding "prior art" that can influence the outcome of important cases.

Article One Partners began its business Monday, seeking individuals to contact it with knowledge of inventions that can be useful in patent litigation cases. The company also offers rewards to experts to contribute their knowledge of "prior art" of important intellectual property.

"We encourage you to get creative and submit anything you feel might be relevant to a Patent Study," Article One's Web site states. "Yes, we mean it: we welcome your documents as long as they contain publicly available information."

The company was founded by former patent attorney Cheryl Milone, who said Article One focuses on patents likely to have great economic impact.

What constitutes "prior art'? Article One notes that for a prior art document to be legally useful its date must precede the latest date of the most previous piece of prior art, usually by a full year. Article One Partners said it will share the proceeds in cases where prior art has been brought to its attention and that an award of up to $50,000 could be awarded to an individual who finds valuable patent information.

"Any information that the public can find through a digitized or paper-based search can count as prior art," Article One states on its Web site. "Examples include previous patents; news or academic publications; non-digitized documents such as textbooks; or any public document provided to others, including conference or academic papers and business materials. Prior art is often found in documents tucked away in a file cabinet years ago, or in the back corner of a library."

Underscoring the growing importance of patent litigation in high tech, the following new patent developments were in the news Tuesday. Eastman Kodak said it is suing LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics for patent infringement. Computer memory developer Spansion announced it is suing Samsung over flash memory. Calypso Wireless reported that its patent infringement case with T-Mobile in the U.S. District Court for the District of Texas, Marshall Division, will be presided over by Judge T. John Ward.