On Sunday, The Washington Post published an interesting article explaining how the long lost Wright brothers’ patent file for the “Flying Machine” was finally found in March. The government had been searching for this file for the last 16 years. The file, which was last seen in 1980, was thought to be stored in a vault at the National Archives. But, in 2000, when an official commemoration was being planned, they realized it was missing. Ultimately, they were able to locate it in a limestone storage cave in Lenexa, Kansas. Although there was concern that the important record was stolen, the conclusion now is that it was probably just misfiled. The article indicates that the National Archives was able to identify this file as a part of a larger effort to locate missing documents.
This episode certainly reinforces the appreciation practitioners have for the USPTO’s efforts to digitize and make its records available to the public.