Monday, June 18, 2007

Non-patent lawyers, the Wright Brothers, and plagiarism at Capella University

Further to the IPBiz post on the alleged plagiarism by a professor at Capella University, the article author Paul Tosto (Higher Education Reporter, St. Paul Pioneer Press) kindly noted to me that the lawyer for the person Swenson is suing (presumably the professor at Capella University) said that Swenson did receive a utility patent.

Those who remember the story of the Wright Brothers and their patent may recall that the Wright Brothers were told by a prominent lawyer early on in their litigations that a certain group of infringement defendants had received utility patents on flying machines. In those days, it was not so easy to quickly find issued patents, and the matter lingered for a while. In the end, the prominent lawyer (who was not a patent attorney) was found to have been wrong. [For those interested, the story is recounted within L. B. Ebert, Festo, Foreseeability and the Wright Brothers, Intellectual Property Today, February 2004. A pertinent sentence from the IPT article is "Herring-Curtiss president (and lawyer), Monroe Wheeler issues a statement that the technology of the Flyer was covered in prior patents to Augustus Herring, patents which subsequently prove to be non-existent." In a statement later to be remembered for its monstrous inaccuracy, lawyer Wheeler said: "the records of the patent office, which will be produced by the defense, will easily and satisfactorily adjust what at first was regarded by the public as a stupendous litigation." Those who recall, fondly, the days of the aviation patent pool, such as FTCR's John Simpson, do not bring up the Wheeler business or the fraud perpetrated by Curtiss with the re-constructed Langley Aerodrome. But then again they don't talk about the patent applications by Loring on stem cells either.]

In 2007, it is much easier to determine if there is an issued patent to a particular inventor on a particular subject. One can readily determine that no patent has issued on application 11/336194 to inventor Mary Swenson ("Psychological Development System"). Inspection of public PAIR shows the last action was on March 8, 2007 in which the case was docketed to an examiner in GAU.

The examiner is PEZZUTO, ROBERT ERIC and the application claims priority to provisional 60/645,433.

***See also at post at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dueling Accusations of Plagiarism Prompt Question: Who's the Victim?


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