Farhad Manjoo gives us some good news in the wars against patent trolls:
When companies are sued for patent infringement, or when they’re proactively protecting themselves from an infringement claim, they often hire a prior art search firm to look for related inventions. But such searches tend to be expensive—you usually need to hire researchers in many different countries—and not all that effective, because even professional searchers tend to miss a lot of stuff. More than a decade ago, a young patent attorney named Cheryl Milone had a flash of insight for solving this problem: “I wondered, instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, what if you could ask each piece of hay if it’s a needle?” That might sound like some kind of riddle, but Milone’s insight has transformed patent litigation. In 2008, she founded Article One Partners, a firm that invites amateurs to look for prior art and rewards successful researchers with cash.