Update: actually, Black & Decker came up with this idea first and we just hadn't seen the thing :-(
The Thermal Flashlight concept has been kicking around for a while and a lot of people like it. Its a popular instructable. But as Hackaday pointed out a day ago, Its now a commercial product sold by Black & Decker.
In a way, I'm excited. We don't have access to the economies of scale to sell such a polished device for 30 bucks, so its nice that a commercial unit exists. But their patent application filed in October 18th 2011 really sucks. Public Lab started publishing about this tool in December 2010, so we would exist as prior art pre-empting their patent, except they give a "priority date" of 2008, so they claim to have thought up the idea first.
I'd like to challenge this patent application at the patent office with our prior art before it becomes a patent. I've never done this before. Any suggestions?