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Patent Office Preps Peer Review

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-08

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Critics of the US Patent Office get their chance to put their expertise where their blogs are and participate in a new peer review initiative aimed at finding patents that are obvious creations and thus not qualified for a patent.

Ideally, all patented inventions would be novel and nonobvious. But the issuer of patents in the United States, the US Patent and Trademark Office, has been accused many times of rubber stamping patents that end up harming other inventions due to the patent covering some obvious function.

Like many government agencies, USPTO has by its admission been ill-equipped to handle the workload, namely a flood of patent filings in the modern era. Beginning Friday, the Patent Office may finally have a way to improve its research.

The Boing Boing blog noted the launch of Peer to Patent, a project that officially launches May 12th to enable community patent review.

IBM will sponsor the effort, which will be hosted by New York Law School. A description of the project appears on its website:

The Community Patent Project aims to design and pilot an online system for peer review of patents. The Community Patent system will support a network of experts to advise the Patent Office on prior art as well as to assist with patentability determinations. By using social software, such as social reputation, collaborative filtering and information visualization tools, we can apply the "wisdom of the crowd" - or, more accurately the wisdom of the experts - to complex social and scientific problems. This could make it easier to protect the inventor's investment while safeguarding the marketplace of ideas.

Professor Beth Noveck has been influential in driving the establishment of Peer To Patent, including its partnership with USPTO. Her blog announced the public briefing on Friday will be held in Alexandria, VA; registrations will be first come, first served and limited to 220 people.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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