Have you ever heard of crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing is harnessing the talent of a pool of people to accomplish an activity. The philosophy behind crowdsourcing is that for a large group of people you have better chances of finding the talent needed to do a job. One organization taking advantage of crowdsourcing is Article One Partners.
Article One Partners specializes in online patent research particularly in finding prior art. Prior art is any information available to the public that can prove that a patent is not a novelty. To prove that a patent is valid, you have to make sure that the product or process for the patent is new or previously unknown — there should be no prior art to it. For a prior art to be valid, it should be made available to the public on or before a certain date which is called, Latest Date for Prior Art. This date is usually one year before the registration of the patent. To the intellectuals, I think looking for prior art is very interesting. It is like being a highly intelligent detective solving a world-shattering phenomenon, at least it seems that way to me. You might be asking why searching for prior art found itself here in Money Soldiers. The answer is because Article One Partners pay the researcher with the highest quality prior art a very good amount of money, like thousands of US dollars. For example a research involving a screen scraper for trash racks which I joined awarded the winning researcher $5,000. I regret to say the winner was not me. Right after I submitted my prior art, I was having delusions of grandeur like speaking publicly while receiving my award and being interviewed on tv about my win and thinking about how I would use the prize money. Sad to say, it was just another one of the many dreams I dreamed that never came true and have seen vanish at dawn. As a researcher, you do not always need to win to receive money because Article One Partners pay their active researchers through annual profit sharing. Article One Partners does not actually pay the winning researcher, it is its clients who pay. These clients come from different specializations, from Telecommunications to Medicine and a lot more. If you are a professional, you are likely to find one research study in your field that will interest you. I believe some of Money Soldiers loyal readers out there may happen to be a skilled researcher and if you are, I highly recommend Article One Partners. Researching for prior art requires a lot of time and effort but it is very much worth it because the prize money is commensurate and also you help humankind avoid costly legal proceedings because of copyright infringement like for example what happened to Samsung and Apple. Think about prior art patent research as saving the world.
To give you a better idea of what a research study is, let me tell you more about the one I joined which I mentioned earlier. The title of the research study I joined was Screen Scraper for Trash Racks. I joined that because as a civil engineer myself, I am relatively familiar with it. Following are the excerpts of the research study details taken from Article Ones Partners’ website:
Overview of Patented Device The trash screen cleaning apparatus has a rotatable drum. The drum is mounted above the screen. One or more endless loop chains are provided on the upstream side of the trash screen. The chains are coupled to the drum, i.e., with a sprocket, so that as the drum turns the chain loops rotate. The drum should rotate in a direction that causes the side of the chain loop facing the screen to move upward toward the drum.
There are scraper blades attached to the chains at intervals. The rotation of the chain moves the scraper blades over the trash screen. The scraper blades engage debris that becomes lodged on the screen and remove it.
The chains have links with abutments at each end. The abutments limit how each link in the chain can pivot relative to its neighbors. In particular, when the links are aligned, the abutments allow the links to pivot in one direction only – inward toward the center of rotation of the chain loop.
Requirements to Match :
References of interest will be for devices for cleaning debris from an upright screen in a fluid stream with he following elements:
1. A rotable drum mounted above a trash screen
2. One or more endless chain loops mounted on and driven by the drum. The chain loops should:
be below the drum;
be positioned upstream of the screen;
have several scrapers configured to engage the screen and remove debris;
rotate so that the portion of the loop closest to the screen moves upward toward the drum;
be made of links that only pivot inward when aligned with their neighbors.
the drum will pivot upstream and downstream in response to impacts on the chain;
there is a receiver to collect the debris removed by the scrapers; and,
there is no roller or other structure at the bottom of the chain opposite the drum.
Again, the above are just excerpts. The complete details are in Article One Partners’ website. In addition researchers were given diagrams and copy of the patent available for download. A sample of one of the diagram is posted below.
I downloaded the files and tried my best to understand the patent. I made sure that I understood correctly what was being patented and I tried to visualize how the screen scraper was structured. I then proceeded with my research. I finished my research in one day and I only used google. I tried to google everything imaginable that was relevant or even remotely relevant to the study. It dawned on me that google was not enough. I was not getting the prior art I was searching for. I realized I probaly needed to go to a library or interview an expert or something to help me in my research. Time was unfortunately not in hands at that time. I submitted what I got from google and tried to convince myself that it was prior art. Maybe the Article One Partners staff who will review my submission might magically be put under a spell and pass my submission as prior art. Maybe I can convince them with my good looks and amazing power of persuasion and charm. Boom! It did not work. Days after my submission, I received an email from them giving me advice on what I should look for in a possible prior art. If I remember it correctly, they also sent me an email days after informing me that the study was closed and I did not win. I was not surprised.
From my experience I learned that researching for prior art is a serious undertaking and probably not for the casual researcher. If you seriously want to win as the researcher with the highest quality prior art, you should invest lots of time and effort to your research. You might also want to consider researching with another person or a group.
You may click this link to sign up to Article One Partners as a researcher and begin your prior art patent research. I wish you all the luck in your research and please donate to Money Soldiers when you win.