a few days ago, my fellow researchers and me fell into a sort of limbo. We were and still are very sad to discover that a company filed a patent in August 2015 that has been published in March 2016. The company claims that it innovated a method that we, among others, conducted research on for a longer time. Unfortunately, the company is known as a patent troll. To be honest, the three ladies in our team currently go through a very hard time as we invested a lot of our freetime into this project that another company now claims authorship for. As a remark, we never earned a single dollar with our software tool and idea. Instead, we contributed to open education initiatives in kindergardens. Also, we never made any consulting gigs. That being said, an automotive manufacturer offered us to potentially talk about a commercial use case of the tool in the near future.
The point is following: The company files its patent in 2015. But since 2009, we and others have research abstracts, research papers, magazines, videos of talks and a downloadable tool online. The patent application claims novelty on 95% of aspects that have been published about 4-5 years before in the aforementioned formats. These publications are all accessible.
Honestly, we don't have a thousand dollars or even more to activate a patent lawyer. In fact, two are pregnant and one recently got a baby. Also, our team (we are no company) is based in Italy, Spain, Denmark and the US.
What would you recommend us to do? How much can we make use of "Written Statement" on prior art?