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This patent US6370535 broadly describes any news release with a headline and content. It's childishly simple and has absolutely no value. It simply documents the extraordinarily broad and intuitive process of creating a news release. Why is this a patent? Why would the USPTO give someone a patent on a generic process? I'm not a lawyer, but this appears to put any individual or company creating a news release with a headline in a position of infringing on a patent. I'm baffled. Please make sense of this.

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The broadest claims do look really broad to me:

  1. A method for structured generation of a news release, the method comprising:

    a. separately specifying content of each of a plurality of pre-determined sections of the news release, the predetermined sections and their ordering determining in part a desired format for the news release;

    b. storing, in a digital storage medium, the content specified for each of the sections; and

    c. assembling the news release by retrieving from the storage medium each of the stored sections in a manner consistent with the desired format.

But It does has more substance than just any news release. It is a method for producing news releases in a predetermined format based on pulling the ingredients together from multiple databases. The fleshed out idea behind it is a menu driven Q and A with explanations and hints to help one produce a press release with a particular set of facts and points. Not earth-shattering, but probably new and non-obvious at the time. The examiner looked at nine other, earlier patents in the field and a similar number of magazine articles and found this doing something none of those did. Later claims, like 13 have more meat.

Still, claim 1 is really broad on its face and might have a harder time standing up than many of the dependent claims. (I assume it was granted at a time when the patentability pendulum had swung far to one side.)

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