Audio Patents Project 2007-10

George Brock-Nannestad, Project Leader

The AES Historical Committee website gives a link to patents at the German Patent and Trademark Office (DEPATIS) for world-wide retrieval of patent information. This access is not the only, nor the best way of obtaining organized information in specific audio areas, because the amount of material is overwhelming and they deliberately make access more difficult than necessary. This is because that website does not intend to compete with commercial services. However, for academic historical research this commercial consideration is not relevant, and we are free to improve the access to non-copyrighted material as we wish. To that end, Rick Chinn, Jay McKnight, and Friedrich Engel have provided running revisions of instructions on the AESHC website. The latest improvement has been that full-text versions may now be downloaded in one operation.

0 An alternative and in many respects more complete and sophisticated access is obtained via the European Patent Office website esp@acenet. Its sister website, which is also the official registry file of all publicly available European patent applications, is termed epoline®, and this has an image database that will give access to all correspondence in the various applications. The US Patent and Trade Marks Office has a similar set of databases, and these are very useful for particular searches as well as for studying the correspondence in US applications. The updated "Audio Patents" project intends to create awareness of these database systems and to give precise indications of how to access them for the desired information.



The high quality of the British "Abridgements of Specifications" has been recognized by the European Patent Office, and they presently form the basis for abstracts and selected drawings for all British patents from ca. 1890 that may be searched by means of the esp@cenet tools. The abstract texts are not 100% identical to those obtained by browsing the original printed books of abridgements, but they link to the full texts of the patents in question all the way back.

This means that the first area of the project is to create awareness of specifically this source, rather than by uploading abridgements and indexes from new scans as was originally the idea. The Abridgements represent both surviving technologies and futile attempts.

BACKGROUND: Abridgements were tools for the examination of UK patent applications before the 1977 Patents Act, because there was only examination with respect to prior UK patents. These abridgements are hence extremely condensed versions of the patents in question and much better than the abstracts generally found in more recent US patents (and post 1977 British patents!).

Presently esp@cenet (but not DEPATIS!) may be searched for applicant and via a modern classification back to 1890, and dependent on how you define your requirements, you may have the original Abridgement text and the images that go with it or download the full text of the British patent.

Text recognition software has generated raw ASCII files of description and claims that are also available on the website, but they have not been proofread as regards the early years. I have also noted that the Abridgements published may be different from the collection I have to hand. This is no doubt due to a classification into several subject areas, and the European project is satisfied with only one abridgement I am not aware of the intended cut-off date for this European project.


These are less than in the original project plan: this area is in reality no longer "major".

I am manually sorting out GB patents mainly relating to electromechanical audio recording and reproduction (cutterheads and pickups) 1900-1925 and have made a list available to the HC, with the idea that relevant patents be made available as links directly at the AES HC website. The list will be added to by myself, and I invite contributions from other interested persons


Retrieving the pages of the AES Journal containing the Reviews of Acoustical Patents that were reprinted from the Acoustical Society of America and providing similar web access to each individual US patent in the form of the reviewer's comment, with a number index and hyperlink.

BACKGROUND: unfortunately, the CD Library of AES publications does not include the relevant pages of Reviews.


I have been offered a copy of a DVD that contains the information; Bill Wray has already identified the relevant issues and page numbers. I will fish the Reviews, separate the Reviews into files, index and upload on a slow but on-going basis. Contributions are invited.


Providing access to PDF versions of complete US patent documents (not individual pages) by numbers, from the very first in the audio field

BACKGROUND: Post-1970 complete ASCII files are available for all US patents. Pre-1970 only image files are available at the USPTO website of US documents, but they require a special reader.


Again, the task has been reduced by the activities of the European Patent Office, and it is now only a matter of presenting information on the AESHC website of how to this in an expedient manner.


With the strong technical involvement in the development of audio technologies it is inevitable that members will have personal views on particular patents. Those who have been long in the business may have had to look through and comment on weekly lists of possibly relevant patents in their professional activity, and may feel tempted to act correspondingly when made aware of audio patents through the present activities.

In other words, it is the long-term goal to make room for personal comments relating to the individual patent documents (Abridgements, ASA, US patents) in order to create a body of knowledge of the development.


Through gradual input from interested persons (volunteers as usual!) to create links between national patent numbers in order to identify patent families (patents that are published in various countries but relating to one particular invention) and to link to comment fields. Such comments may in themselves be links to court cases, affidavits, etc. Contributions are invited.

This activity is to be coordinated with the general re-organization of the AESHC website and may take the form of a responsible WIKI-structure.


Serving all of the above areas is the creation of a PowerPoint presentation of

1) how to access esp@acenet
2) how to access epoline®
3) how to access the USPTO Patent Search and Public PAIR systems

I have performed a token search, stored a number of screen dumps, originated by a Patent Review of an issued US Patent, which is still pending in Europe, and the presentation will draw on all the databases. At present it is most likely that there will be 3 separate PowerPoint presentations in order that a specific need may be addressed without having to go through endless slides from another problem. The presentations will be the actual screen images with superimposed comments and explanations as well as connecting text.

The project will be developed further from this start, and we expect that it will become an authoritative source to the technical development of the Audio area.

G B-N 2005-05-06
Revised 2005-05-22 GB-N + jm
Revised 2007-10-05
AES - Audio Engineering Society