Browse Prior Art Database

Publication Date: 2001-May-04

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


The present invention describes a system for and method of verifying the authenticity of a document source by fingerprinting the document with a unique message digest. The method creates a signature file for the document source, applies the message digest algorithm to produce a unique message digest, appends the message digest to both the signature file and the document, and provides the signature file and message digest algorithm to the document source. The provider is able to verify authenticity of ownership by using the message digest algorithm on the signature file to reproduce a message digest that is identical to the message digest appended to the document.

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Business Background of the Invention

Defensive publication can be one component of an overall intellectual property (IP) program. By publishing, which may be done anonymously, companies can achieve certain strategic goals for their IP program, such as establishing prior art to prevent others from patenting the same invention. This method, practiced commonly by companies as well as individual inventors, is a timesaving and economical alternative to the patenting process.

Publishing Web sites, such as, offer defensive publication services for clients. Documents, drawings, and other attachments are submitted for notarization, indexing, and posting. These services cost far less than pursuing a patent and can be an essential step in a company's IP program. Specifically, a company that chooses to publish can prove they were "first to invent" over competitors and thus may save the enormous cost of litigation or interference lawsuits over inventions.

However, when companies that publish anonymously wish to submit a patent application for an invention (within the one-year time frame allowed after publishing in the United States), the issue of proving ownership arises. It is advantageous for a company to retain anonymity until the time they are ready to pursue a patent, and need to show that they own the published document. Companies that wish to shrewdly and intelligently protect their IP need this invaluable service. No company has yet introduced a method to prove ownership of an anonymously published document.

Problems Solved by the Invention

How to prevent cluster searching in an anonymous publication?

When searching anonymous publications, it is possible to associate documents by comparing and clustering documents that exhibit similar identification names or numbers. As a result, a search may yield enough information to determine ownership of an anonymous publication. This practice of "cluster searching" can compromise an author's anonymity. What is needed is a way to prevent cluster searching in an anonymous publication.

How to eliminate the need for encryption?

Encryption is a commonly used tool for protecting e-mail and Internet document transmission. However, encryption is not foolproof and can be deciphered. Using a username and password system as an alternative is not a sufficiently secure system because it can be reverse-engineered. What is needed is a way to eliminate the need for encryption.

How to provide proof of authorship for an anonymously published document?

One common problem associated with publishing anonymously is that it becomes difficult to provide proof of authorship. If the author's name is not somehow linked to or associated with the publication, it cannot be proven that author owns the document. This becomes necessary when the author needs to pursu...