Frequent Voting Rights Forum Participant
Post Number: 2970
Best of Black Box? N/A
Votes: 0 (A keeper?)
|Posted on Monday, June 19, 2006 - 8:01 am: ||
I pass this on courtesy of Irish e-voting expert Margaret McGaley, who posted this information (which originated with Erik Nilsson) on the ICTE website:
USPTO has issued a patent for paper records associated with a DRE. The patent is number 6,968,999: "Computer enhanced voting system including verifiable, custom printed ballots imprinted to the specifications of each
This patent issued 11/29/05, filed 12/12/01, based on an abandoned provisional filed 12/28/00. My understanding is that claiming priority on an abandoned provisional is pissing in the wind.
The claims are pretty broad, and to my reading, weak. It seems like the prior art search on this was severely inadequate. Papers published by Bob
Wilcox and me in 1988 and 1989 would seem to me to cover the entire subject matter of this patent. Rebecca Mercuri states she devised the same general system in considerable detail at about the same time and perhaps even earlier. If she published before 2001, and I'm pretty sure she did, then Mercuri's publications would also be invalidating prior art. It would appear possible nonetheless to steer around this patent. The
independent claims are 1, 25, and 26. Claim 1 contains a curious limitation: the patent is only applicable if selected choices are printed in a *font* different than unselected choices. Claim 25 describes a method whereby only selected choices are printed. Claim 26 describes more or less the whole VVPB process, with two limiting factors: the voter cannot vote a blank ballot (at least one choice must be made), and the same printer that prints the ballot must also print a voiding mark on the ballot. Thus a system that prints both
selected and unselected choices yet differentiates them by a means other than font (position, size, face, or by textual notation of "vote -->", for
example) evades claims 1 and 25. So long as a voter is allowed to generate an entirely blank ballot (as is legally required in many places anyway), then claim 26 is evaded.
Nonetheless, this one could be a source of trouble.
The inventor appears to be the David Reardon that directs the Elliot Institute and wrote this book:
http://www.afterabortion.info/jericho/index.htm Elections technology seems to be something of a departure for Dr. Reardon. (Possibly there is more than one David C. Reardon in the roughly 100K residents of Springfield, IL, but that seems not particularly likely.) Fortunately, this Dr. Reardon wouldn't seem to have the background or economic interest to wage a protracted patent
fight, but he could license '999 to people who do.
Warning: I am not a patent lawyer. Not a lawyer even. Do *not* base your DRE IP strategy around my speculation, as you will surely come to grief if you do, or at least I hope so.