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IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000004766D
Publication Date: 2001-May-05
Document File: 32 page(s) / 1M

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database


The present invention describes a method of and apparatus for creating and using an electronic technical notebook. Using this apparatus, a method is described where inventors and scientists may create a secure electronic file retained on a remote server. The owners and inventors may add pages that may be text, video, or audio files, or zipped combinations of files (hereafter called pages) to this notebook for tracking and safekeeping. Entries are notarized and time-stamped to document date of invention. The system is capable of providing information to any authorized party if requested.Inventors are automatically alerted regarding requirements of continuity for contributing to their electronic technical notebooks.

This text was extracted from a WORD97 document.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 8% of the total text.


Business Background of the Invention

A key facet of invention is documentation. The date of invention and details regarding the development over time of an invention need to be faithfully documented, from creation through enablement. This documentation can be critical if the ownership of the idea is later disputed and requires court intervention. To date, most inventors and scientists have documented their ideas in hand-written technical notebooks. The pages are numbered and the pages are sewn into the binding to preclude the user from altering or tampering with information entered into the notebook.

However, this is not the best way to provide solid credibility to the integrity of the information, document the date of invention, prevent espionage, or protect the research and development (R&D) investment of a company. Computer capabilities exist that can provide these features quickly and easily. Although a company or laboratory could decide to keep their information electronically in-house, it is not the mission of a technical firm to become a document management company. Further, the fact that a company could have altered their own documentation reduces the credibility of the information, particularly in court.

A third party that creates a secure, easy-to-use method of documenting and safekeeping sensitive technical information stands to capture a significant share of the R&D market.

Problem Solved by the Invention

How to add credibility to an inventor's claim of date of invention?

Often an inventor comes up with a concept and begins to document the progress made to develop the idea and enable the invention. If another party claims to have conceived the same idea, a determination is made via affidavit by the USPTO or via interference by a court who owns the rights to the invention. Technical notebooks can be used as proof of invention; however, if these documents are written without a third party witness, they lack strong credibility. The strongest form of witnessing is retention of the document by a third party and third party time-stamping and notarization. What is needed is a way to add credibility to an inventor's claim of date of invention.

How to prove that technical documentation has not been altered or tampered with?

Written technical notebooks are designed to preclude the user from altering or tampering with the information recorded in it. The pages in the notebook are numbered and the pages are sewn into the binding. However, there are still ways to alter or tamper with the written information by intentionally entering incorrect dates or leaving spaces in the notebook to be completed later. An electronic file, notarized, time-stamped, and retained by a third party, would effectively prevent alternation. What is needed is a way to prove that technical documentation has ...