If one were to have information concerning a patent application that would refute the claim of no prior art (goes to originality), is there a process and/or obligation to submit this information to the USPTO in order to affect the granting to the patent?
"Got 15 minutes? Go to Ask Patents right now, and see if one of these RFPAs covers a topic you know something about, and post any examples you can find. They’re hidden in plain view; most of the prior art you need for software patents can be found on Google. Happy hunting!"
15 minutes of Google-hunting would actually help refute a patent that already has had prior art associated with it.
There is an obligation of disclosure and candor if you are the inventor, the attorney or agent involved with the case or or are otherwise involved with the patenting effort. Those people have to provide the USPTO with anything that they know that would tend to cast a negative light on patentability or that contradict a position that has been taken by the applicants with the patent office.
That duty is discharged by filing a document in the case called an Information Disclosure Statement. People on the inventing/patenting team can discharge their duty by bringing whatever it is to an inventor. The duty extends until the patent is granted or goes abandoned. Those people need to submit any publications and inform the PTO of any actions (put on sale longer than 1 yr before filing, etc.) that are relevant to patentability.
Applicants are never going to say "there is no prior art". For one reason the term prior art just means everything that is fair game to look at. If it is generally in the same field or is generally aimed at the same problem and it is dated before the application, it is available as prior art. (Simplified) One can never know the totality of what might be out there so the idea that a document refutes a statement that "nothing is out there" is not going to happen.
More practically, yes, there are ways for 3rd parties to submit documents and a short analysis as to their relevance to the USPTO. It can't be a full brief. But this does not extend to a "brief". Some ways of getting information in allow only the document and others also allow a short explanation of the relevance of a document.
This site was set up to facilitate that process. It is not a real opposition process just a way to get something in front of the examiner in a timely fashion. Under the new patent laws there is a time window in the course of most applications for this - for free up to 3 documents. Failing that, there are new, but expensive, post-grant opposition procedures.
There is also an ability to send something at any time under 35 USC 301. Things that come in under that section of the law are put in the file but not necessarily looked at by the examiner.