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If the patent application is too wide, covetous, or laughable, and the patent is rejected, then you wouldn't hear about it. No?

US patent applications are a matter of public record as soon as they are filed, whether or not they're approved. They're even published on the Web. At this page,
http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html
you can search either for
Issued Patents (PatFT)
(full-text since 1976, full-page images since 1790)

or
Published Applications (AppFT)
(published since 15 March 2001)

Best Donna Richoux
US patent applications are a matter of public record as soon as they are filed, whether or not they're approved.

Except for the classified ones, although inventors generally make every effort to write them in an unclassified way. Patents have other applications, often times, than the intended military one, is one reason.
Just for the record, the device described in my one and only patent application was stolen from me by a government man I went to for advice, who had some buddies in industry. The device they made, using the idea, worked too, I'll have you know. Pisses me off a tiny bit because I suspect John made some money out of the deal, while I made not a penny, the GS 15 son-of-a-***. He was, too, clever or not.
Charles Riggs
They are no accented letters in my email address
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
US patent applications are a matter of public record as soon as they are filed, whether or not they're approved.

Not true. US patent applications are confidential until they're published (see 37 CFR 1.14), which, for applications filed since Nov. 29, 1999, is generally 18 months from the filing date (unless there's a secrecy order or the patent applicant requests non-publication and doesn't file in other countries). Pending applications filed prior to that date are generally confidential until the patent issues, I believe. You could do a FOIA request to find out information on unpublished applications, however.
Information regarding rejections of published applications is available to the public, but you have to pay for it.
I have never heard a patent referred to as "wide" or "covetous" in the United States. Could you give some examples of these uses?

"Broad" seems to be the US standard, but elsewhere it is probably just a more common form than "wide", not the exclusive form. I'd be surprised if there were any legal distinction, and "wide" is perfectly understood in the US. "Covetous" is not a concept I know from US patent law or practice, but it is old in other jurisdictions looking to the English Statute of Monopolies as their common heritage. A covetous claim is invalid at common law, because the patentee is too greedy, laying claim to more than he has contributed to the art by his disclosure.

Some cites from non-US sources if interested:
Japanese author's comment on US law:
http://www.iip.or.jp/e/summary/pdf/detail2001/e13 9.pdf

(2) Functional Claims Under Distinctness Rule
An opinion has existed that functional claims
do not comply with the principle of distinctness set forth in 35 USC §112(2). In fact, in the Halliburton Supreme Court decision, a patent claim was
decided as being invalid as being indefinite and too wide.
Australia:
http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/pdfs/patents/manual/Part208.pdf

"A patentee may rightly claim a monopoly wider in extent than what he has invented. If he has discovered a general principle or invented a general method and discloses one way of carrying it out, he may claim all ways of carrying it out, but 'he is not entitled to claim a monopoly more extensive than is necessary to protect what he has himself said is his invention'. He cannot claim all solutions to a problem unless invention lies in the identification of the problem."
But a wide claim to an application of a principle must not be so extensive as to amount to any method of solving a particular problem.
Canada:
http://www.jurisdiction.com/patweb06.htm#d
D. COVETOUS CLAIMING
A claim is invalid if it monopolizes more than the inventor:

a. actually invented (an inventor may not validly claim what he or she has not invented); or
b. described in the patent (an inventor may not validly claim what he or she has not described).
...
It is covetous to attempt to monopolize all methods of achieving a particular end by claiming the end rather than the method of achieving it.(72) In the claims one can describe a class of substances or compounds by their characteristics, thereby covering all the substances which would work for that purpose.(73)
...
If an article is new, useful, and has subject-matter, it is patentable. But the claim may be for something new, useful and which has subject-matter, yet it may be too wide because it extends beyond the subject-matter of the invention. A claim may be too wide if it claims protection for something the patentee isn't entitled to protect.
United Kingdom:
http://www.patent.gov.uk/patent/reference/biotechguide/micro.htm
91 The width of a claim using a micro-organism to produce anend product e.g. an antibiotic depends on where the invention lies. When the invention is in the discovery of a new end product a wide process claim of the type "A process for the manufacture of antibiotic X by culturing an X-producing strain of Streptococcus pilosus in a nutrient medium" would be allowed but even here regard is had to whether the description demonstrates that more than one strain had been used.

Google for much more on "patent claim covetous" (no quotes).
Paul
In bocca al Lupo!
US patent applications are a matter of public record as soon as they are filed, whether or not they're approved.

Not true. US patent applications are confidential until they're published (see 37 CFR 1.14), which, for applications filed since Nov. ... the filing date (unless there's a secrecy order or the patent applicant requests non-publication and doesn't file in other countries).

All right, the interval between submitting the application and it being published is longer than I thought, then. But my point is that at the time they are published, they are still merely applications. It's not the case that only approved, issued patents are made public and that rejected ones stay secret.
Though, I suppose the Patent Office might still have a lower threshold some applications might be submitted that are so obviously incomplete, insufficient, and inappropriate that they would't even make it through that initial stage. So that would match up to what Tony said.
Pending applications filed prior to that date are generally confidential until the patent issues, I believe. You could do a FOIA request to find out information on unpublished applications, however.

I have no experience with patents filed in or before 1999.
Information regarding rejections of published applications is available to the public, but you have to pay for it.

Best Donna Richoux
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Just for the record, the device described in my one and only patent application was stolen from me by a ... out of the deal, while I made not a penny, the GS 15 son-of-a-***. He was, too, clever or not.

To quote Stupid Riggs:
"By the way, this is alt.usage.english."

Reinhold (Rey) Aman
GIF users can argue that "data character" includes bits encoding characters (e.g. ASCII) but not raw bits, pixels, and the like which don't take the form characters. There is a good case for this if the specifications and claims describe only compression of text or characters and not other kinds of data.