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In other words, can it count as prior art that will result in rejecting a patent application submitted after the notarization? Thanks.

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Edit: Due to my poor knowledge of English terminology, this question was actually about timestamping, not notarizing. I've now posted a more relevant and researched question here. But I think that this one also has some merit thanks to the answers below.

  • Was it made public? – Eric Shain Apr 22 at 20:09
  • @EricShain It's complicated. The answer is no but the notary says that after the timestamp is given, the document has to be submitted to a relevant central public service (library of copyrighted works? sorry, I'll look more for the English term and revisit the question). – Helen - down with PCorrectness Apr 23 at 7:01
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I am not a lawyer, so my answer is quite possibly wrong. That said, I have had documents notarized and in every case, the notary was only verifying that I willingly signed the document and know what I'm signing. The notary didn't even read the document. The following quote is from this site.

A notary public is a public official appointed by a state government to help deter fraud. Notary publics witness the signing of important documents and verify the identity of the signer(s), their willingness to sign the documents, and their awareness of the contents of the document or transaction.

Since the document itself wasn't made public, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the mere act of getting a document notarized does not constitute public disclosure and would not invalidate a subsequent attempt to patent the idea described in the document.

Again, I could be wrong so I hope an actual lawyer answers the question. In any case, if this is of real importance to you, I would suggest that getting legal advice from Q&A sites like this is not sufficient and you should consult with an actual attorney.

  • Thank you Eric, but I understand that I didn't put my question correctly. What I have in mind is that a notary confirms the date on which a document was submitted by its author - unfortunately I can't find the right English term yet. This is common practice for works of art and copyright, but of course there are many other things to consider in the case of patents. (But, your part about it not being public discosure could actually be the important one here.) – Helen - down with PCorrectness Apr 23 at 6:52
  • @Helen A notary only confirms the date that the document is signed. The patent world now is a first to file system. Thus, even if you could prove you had an idea first, if someone else files before you they can obtain the patent and you can't. – Eric Shain Apr 23 at 12:55
  • Eric, I "upgraded" the question into a new one: patents.stackexchange.com/questions/20490/… I hope that this clarifies some points and expresses better what I was aiming at. I'd be glad if you want to take a look there as well. – Helen - down with PCorrectness May 15 at 22:42
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No, notarization is a way to show that your signature is your signature. It has nothing to do with public disclosure. To prevent others from patenting the same idea, from a practical point of view, you would need to make your disclosure in a way that an examiner would find it during a search. From a broader point of view, the submission you mentioned in a later comment must actually make the document "published" as of some date as the word published word is understood by patent statutes and the history of patent cases. It will need to be publicly available and also be indexed by subject matter in some way.

You can edit your own question and should probably do so to add the fact that the intension is to submit, in some fashion, after the notarization.

  • Thanks Eric, but I understand that I didn't put my question correctly. What I have in mind is that a notary confirms the date on which a document was submitted by its author - unfortunately I can't find the right English term yet. This is common practice for works of art and copyright, but of course there are many other things to consider in the case of patents. (But, your part about it not being public discosure could actually be the important one here.) – Helen - down with PCorrectness Apr 23 at 6:53
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    George, so in practical terms you are correct that an examiner needs to find the printed publication to cite it as prior art. But generally speaking, "printed publications" are more broad than those accessible to patent examiners. – Chris Apr 23 at 14:33
  • For example, courts have found that publications accessible through libraries (even if they're not indexed on the internet) can be considered printed publications for invalidating a patent. In re Hall, 781 F.2d 897, 228 USPQ 453 (Fed. Cir. 1986). – Chris Apr 23 at 14:36
  • As another example, a presentation given at a conference that included hard copies available to attendees was also considered prior art. Massachusetts Institute of Technology v. AB Fortia, 774 F.2d 1104, 1109, 227 USPQ 428, 432 (Fed. Cir. 1985). – Chris Apr 23 at 14:37
  • A patent applicant might get a patent out of these inventions (because there's no way for a patent examiner to find these prior art references), but the patent would be subject to invalidation when challenged in court. – Chris Apr 23 at 14:38

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