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I just found out about a patent application filed in 2004 covering creating legal contracts using templates. It's being pushed again: http://www.google.com/patents/US20060287966

Surely legal firms have been doing this before 2004?

Bit worried that what we currently do (making legal documents from templates) will suddenly be patented and we'll be forced into an untenable situation in the US.
Any thoughts, history or prior art anyone?

  • I did some work for a firm in 1986 that was using templates. I know this because one of the tasks I preformed for them was to make them accessible from all of their workstations. I smell a troll. – David A. Gray Aug 21 '15 at 19:30
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    You might get better answers on this question at Ask Patents SE, because the legal answer is essentially, "If it shouldn't be patentable, but it is given a patent, then the patent can be challenged in court, and justice/truth/righteousness should prevail in the end." – feetwet Aug 21 '15 at 21:13
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The reason that this patent application is still pending after more than a decade is that the claims they tried to get in the original application were indeed far too broad, and they have kept trying (and failing) to get more protection than they deserve. In its current form, the claims have many more limitations (meaning, only a much more specific set of actions would infringe the patent), but the application still has not been allowed, so even those claims may not stand as they are.

If you're interested in seeing the current state of the application, go to the USPTO's Public PAIR site and search for application number 11/020,605. Then, click on the "Image File Wrapper" tab, and select the most recent "Claims" (at the time of writing, dated 07-17-2015). This will pop out a document viewer showing the claims in their current state. Right now, the independent claims (the ones you should care about to see if you would infringe) are numbers 28, 29, and 30.

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