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DIGITAL digest

February 2003
Workflow Patents Revisited as Henry Freedman Speaks

SPRINGFIELD, VA—The October 2002 edition of Printing Impressions included an overview of recent developments related to the patenting of automated workflow methodologies and technologies. The article made reference to an earlier patent held by Henry B. Freedman (U.S. Patent 4,839,829) but, at the time, Freedman said he was constrained from commenting for the story.

Having now gotten the go-ahead from his patent attorney, Freedman recently provided an outline of how he sees the "829 Patent" coming into play as the industry moves more toward computer-integrated manufacturing.

As of December 2002, 58 other patents already reference the 829 Patent for connecting printing requestors with print production locations in an automated environment, Freedman notes.

Companies recognizing and referencing the patent reportedly include the likes of Xerox, Heidelberg, MAN Roland, Standard Register, Moore, Kinko's, Printcafe and others. All of these companies reference the 829 Patent as prior art to their inventions, the patent holder says.

Freedman claims his is a "Pioneering Patent" that typically is awarded at the starting point of any new area of technological development. He says that among the innovations disclosed within the 829 Patent are:

* The connection of printing requestors with printing plants providing automated pricing and production file checking with rules online—today known as networked preflighting.

* Establishment of networked communications for the people producing a printed work—which people call "collaboration" in the current lingo.

* The downloading of information to set up and charge-back workflow on the factory floor—or digital networked production systems as offered by Creo, Printcafe, MAN Roland, Komori and others.

Freedman contends other advances in print automation that have yet to make it to market are discussed in his patent. He says this includes ideas that fall under the "Smart Factory" and "print e-commerce" concept umbrellas.

According to Freedman, "The 829 Patent, amongst many things, is a process patent that was granted under stricter guidelines before the more recent and many questionable 'method of doing business' patents were allowed."

A copy of the patent is available at www.henryfreedman.com.


GATF Study Examines Real-World PDF Usage

PITTSBURGH—The Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) has released a study exploring the effectiveness of using PDF files as a means of digital document exchange within the graphic arts industry. "The PDF Era: PDF Usage in the Real World" report is said to document the experiences of printers already using PDF workflow so readers can learn about the real-world benefits and problems.
 

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