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ericjones12398 writes "The United States Code limits patentability to inventions which have not been described in previously printed publications. Later interpretations of this provision allow the definition to encompass all documents that have been made sufficiently available to persons ordinarily skilled in the art. This definition is staggeringly broad, and includes not just USPTO-issued patents, but also peer-reviewed journal articles, documents available on the internet, technical specifications, theses, source code, product descriptions and advertisements, textbooks, and the list goes on. Furthermore, these documents are not limited to those available in English, as documents in other languages are also fair game. Patent examiners certainly have their work cut out for them." Link to Original Source
Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers
something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.