Dan Shapiro's HOW TO READ A PATENT is superb, a wonderful demystification of one of the most obfuscatory, potentially harmful instruments in contemporary law. Also, it's funny.
Step 2: Skip the drawings
Patent drawings are mostly similar to high school notebook doodles except that they cost $5,000. They're generally impossible to read and only indirectly have a bearing on the enforceability of the patent. The occasional exception exists: the incredibly edifying flowchart. the drawings that look like a giant gummy bear (because the invention is, actually, a giant gummy bear) and sometimes a picture is simply worth a thousand words (particularly when that picture depicts the inventor, one Mr. Edward L. Van Halen, demonstrating proper use of his invention).
How to read a patent in 60 seconds
(via O'Reilly Radar)
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