Short Description of Prior Art for Wolf Patents

Prior Art Leads Should Be Dated No Later Than: Aug. 17, 2001

The Wolf patents claim to cover a method of selling photos of sporting events over the Internet. First, a photographer takes on-site photos of participants of a sporting event, such as a marathon or triathlon. Then, the photos are associated with “identifying data,” such as bib numbers worn by the participants, the actual names of the participants, or the date and time the photograph was taken. The photographer uploads the photos onto a server and informs the participants of the identifying data (e.g., by e-mail), so that the participants can input the identifying data to search online for their individual photos and/or view the photos for inspection or ordering.


Every patent has a section entitled “claims.” Each claim is made up of “elements.” The patent holder only has legal rights to what is listed in the claims section.  The patent holder does not have legal rights to anything else (e.g. background information). In order to infringe, the infringer must have violated all of the elements of a claim.

The following is the Wolf patents' core claim and “busting” it would greatly reduce the patents' effectiveness. The claims cover a method for taking photos of a sporting event and selling them on-line to the participants of the sporting event. The method contains the following steps (or “elements”):

1. Taking photos of a participant of a sporting event

2. Associating identifying data with each photo. The identifying data could be a number worn by a participant, a participant’s name, a date and time the photo was taken, or a code acquired from a component (e.g., sensor) worn by the participant.

3. Informing the participants of the identifying data

4. Transferring the photos to a computer network server

5. Cataloging each photo according to the identifying data

6. Accessing (by anyone) the server at a location other than the sporting event and searching for a photo utilizing the identifying data

7. Displaying the photo for inspection and ordering

Please note that we are interested in prior art that includes all of these steps, even if they are performed in an order different than the one listed above.


The Wolf patents were filed on Nov. 5, 1999 but we will accept any prior art leads dated before Aug 17, 2001.

Prior art is proof that shows the patented method was not new, or that the patented method was obvious, at the time of the invention. For example, evidence that shows that the exact method was patented or practiced by someone else would prove that Wolf’s method was not new. As an example of obviousness, evidence that shows that a similar method was employed at a non-sporting event (e.g., graduation ceremony) might persuade the USPTO that Wolf’s method was obvious.

Prior art should be in a published format and examples include, but are not limited to:

(1) web page,
(2) published patent,
(3) conference paper,
(4) newsgroup forum post,
(5) news article,
(6) technical paper,
(7) poster,
(8) brochure

Even if your evidence may not be in the form of a printed material, we would still appreciate knowing about it, so tell us.

Ideally, the prior art is related to the field of event photography or sports photography, but it does not have to be. In fact, we anticipate that important prior art for these patents may be related to taking photos of any event where there are a large number of people (e.g., photo taking at marathons, beauty pageant, weddings, graduation ceremonies, ski competitions, horse races, amusement parks, or dog shows.)

No matter what field of photography, the prior art should include a step whereby the photographer associates each photo taken with some type of identifying data (e.g., name of person in picture or time of day). This data can then be used to search through a database of photos.

If you are aware of prior art which you believe could be used to invalidate these patents, please send that information to: