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USPTO to Use Peer to Patent Program 124

Posted by Zonk
from the just-wish-they'd-started-it-sooner dept.
An anonymous reader writes "DailyTech is reporting that the US Patent and Trademark Office is going to start using the Peer to Patent program. From the article:' The US Patent and Trademark Office has been getting praise for officially launching the Peer to Patent program -- the purpose of Peer to Patent is to find patents that have been issued for already made products or items that don't properly qualify for a patent. Because the USPTO usually does not have the manpower and time to thoroughly check every patent that comes into the office, many are unjustly rubber stamped.' The program will utilize a Wiki, among other tools, to get the job done."
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USPTO to Use Peer to Patent Program

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  • Two words: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vorondil28 (864578) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:30AM (#15292967) Journal
    'bout time.
    • the next good thing they could do to apply this program to allready issued invalid patents
    • Re:Two words: (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Red Alastor (742410) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:39AM (#15293027)
      'bout time.
      Indeed. Now they need to apply time penalties for stupid patents. Each time you troll them they wait longer before they examine your next patent and it grows exponentially.

      No one would submit tons of patent applications at once and hope something (or everything pass).

      And it doesn't disadvantage the small guy.

    • Hear, hear!
    • by babbling (952366) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:53AM (#15293138)
      What makes you think this will improve matters? Who exactly is going to go reading patents and reviewing them for the patent office?

      Lawyers? No... they'd be much more interested in spending their time on similar work that they actually get paid for.
      Developers/scientists/engineers? No... (AFAIK, IANAL) most legal advice suggests that you shouldn't go reading about patents in your field, and instead just read patents whenever they become relevant to you. (when you're being sued for infringement, for example)

      I struggle to see how the patent office is going to get much out of this. I also struggle to see why people should contribute (without being paid) to such a broken system. Contributing in this way will not make the system any less broken. It will more likely just make it a bit easier to keep running it.
      • > I also struggle to see why people should contribute (without being paid) to such a broken system.

        The only people that will contribute to this system are those with a vested interest in particular patents. I can companies paying people to evaluate patents (either positively or negatively) to help the company. I can see a scenerio where say Microsoft hires a guy with 100 user ids to evaluate a patent positively and Amazon hires a guy with 100 user ids to evaluate the same patent negatively.
        • by mzwaterski (802371) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:25AM (#15293394)
          Come on. Please read the article before complaining. The peer review process is merely to submit prior art. Everyone on slashdot now has the chance to submit all the prior art that they always talk about whenever a patent story is posted. The art will be reviewed by the examiner ultimately. The goal is to discover and have the examiner review the most relevant prior art. Microsoft can use its 100 user ids to submit prior art against itself...but they already have a duty to submit any art they know about...so your comment really doesn't apply.
          • The peer review system appears to do nothing more than provide a forum for discussion on published patent applications. Anyone who wants to can currently submit prior art to the Office that they think is relevant to a pending application that has been published.
          • I did read the article and then USPTO FAQ before complaining.

            What is to stop companies from hiring people from submitting unruly amounts of prior art? They can still game the system by picking and choosing what art to send to the examiner.

      • by chrispycreeme (550607) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:09AM (#15293267)
        If I understand the concept I think slashdot readers would be one group that would help with this. How many times have people posted all the "prior art" examples for these lawsuit harvest patents on /.? Open source developers that have projects threatened by junk patents etc etc. I think this is a fantastic development.
        my 2 cents, not one red cent more from me.
        • Yeah, but how many /.ers - or open source / free software developers, for that matter - can read and understand patent applications? I know that I'm not fluent in Legalese, and I don't think that is because English is not my native language.
          • Well, I bet some of the Slashdot crowd can read legalese as well as the patent exameners, and really that doesn't matter. You read the patent. You think it means X, but it really means Y. You send information pertaining to prior art for X. Patent examener reviews your prior art, decides it isn't relevant to X, and is disqualified. Ta da. Basiclly this process is being tested so that examaners review prior art, not search for it.
      • What makes you think this will improve matters?

        Even if only 1 bad patent is prevented from passage and/or enforcement it will be an improvement.

        Who exactly is going to go reading patents and reviewing them for the patent office?

        Mike over at Tech Dirt of course.

        Lawyers? No... they'd be much more interested in spending their time on similar work that they actually get paid for.

        sure

        Developers/scientists/engineers? No... (AFAIK, IANAL) most legal advice suggests that you shouldn't go reading a
      • by just_another_sean (919159) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @11:45AM (#15293568) Homepage Journal
        As you say most people become concerned about patents when it affects them. But with all the litigation going on these days, especially in the tech industry, I think the number of people affected, and therefore possibly willing to contribute to this, is quite large. And it's not just company X getting sued that affects people. Sure company X is going to go all out to use this tool to their advantage and even contribute some knowledge back to it. Things really snowball though when a) affected end users become concerned, b) affected side markets become concerned (e.g. makers of Blackberry cases and accessories) and c) developers of software/services around a disputed technology become concerned. As a peer post pointed out the number of people on /. (and I would add Groklaw) alone who are willing to debunk bogus patents is a formidable force.

        Although it's becoming cliché and tired at this point there is some truth to the "many eyeballs" line of reasoning. And debunking patent applications scratches the same type of itch in some people that hunting for security vulnerabilities and bugs does. Security researchers come in many forms so I won't generalize too much but a number of them do it for the sheer satisfaction of finding and reporting a vulnerability and the "cool factor" that comes with it. IMHO a lot of pro researchers and laymen alike would love a chance to participate in a system like this for patents.
        • What *I* wish this would change is the price of patenting by individuals. I have ideas, but they are in a piece of a larger project. The smaller details *IN* the larger project could get snapped up and patented, even though I have a copyright on them merely by including them in the larger work.

          Moreover, I intend to not only claim copyright on the specific, small number of smaller items, I will have meticulously blueprinted them and simultaneously published them with the larger work.

          In **MY** mind, having th
      • Presumably anybody working in a given field would be interested in making sure that bad patents aren't granted in that field. They're going to need some good search and presentation tools though, because you're right, nobody is going to want to wade through thousands.
    • 'bout time.

      Funny, those weren't the words when I suggested it [slashdot.org].
    • This infringes on my patent for "A System of Peer Evaluation of Prior Art of Patent Applications". The USPTO will be hearing from my lawyers!
    • To quote a friend of mine:

      My guess is that you will work for free.

      Turning away from the root of the problem is such a bad idea I don't know where to start.

      It's like creating a community for better tax evaluation.

      I couldn't agree more. The system is obviously broken. So what do you do: encourage society to pour even more money into it (time = money) in order to fix the worst problems. It's not even sure that after all this extra work, you'll actually have a properly functioning patent system.

  • Infant Stage (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:31AM (#15292972) Journal
    I think that the Wiki is really in its infant stage as there's not much on it. A lot of times, don't they take a huge body of documents and then write an ingestor application to seed a serious Wiki?

    The most interesting thing on the site is the research style paper [jot.com] entitled "Peer to Patent": Collective Intelligence and Intellectual Property Reform by Beth Simone Noveck. There's an insane amount of footnotes on the first opening pages and it is a PDF so I will repost the abstract:

    The patent system is broken. The Constitution intended for patents to foster innovation and the promotion of progress in the useful arts. Instead, the Patent Office creates uncertainty and monopoly. Underpaid and overwhelmed examiners struggle under the burden of 350,000 applications per year and a mounting backlog of 600,000. Increasingly patents are approved for unmerited inventions. What if we could make it easier to ensure that only the most worthwhile inventions got twenty years of monopoly rights? What if we could offer a way to protect the inventor's investment while still safeguarding the marketplace of ideas from bad inventions? What if we could make informed decisions about scientifically complex problems before the fact, rather than trying to reform the system ex post? What if we could harness collective intelligence to replace bureaucracy?

    This Article argues that we should reform the patent system by re-designing the institution of patent examination. Our existing legal mechanisms for awarding the patent monopoly are constructed around the outdated assumption that only expert bureaucrats can produce dispassionate decisions in the public interest. Building upon what we have learned from online and off-line systems of collaboration, we can now use the tools available to combine the wisdom of expert scientific communities of practice with the legal determinations of a trained Patent Office staff.

    This Article proposes the creation of a peer review online system to help the Patent Examiner find the right prior art and access those experts who can advise on how to apply it. This new mechanism for collaborative expertise provides an avenue for reform that requires minimal statutory change while improving the quality of patents. We have arrived at a unique moment in history when four factors converge to make this reform possible: first, the state of patenting has become so problematic as to meet with almost universal opprobrium; second, patent applications are published after eighteen months independent of grant, making it possible to consider open peer review; third, we now have the technology to make peer review on this scale possible; and fourth, we have experience both with offline peer review and with online systems for collaborative decision making that provide the empirical understanding of how to re-construct our intellectual property institutions. This Article not only argues for such an institutional re-design, it provides a blueprint for the pilot that the United States Patent Office has agreed to implement. This proposal has implications beyond the patent process. It may enable us to contribute to the design of other social systems that depend upon the collaboration of experts across a distance, providing ways to improve policymaking, deepen democracy and rethink our fundamental assumptions about governance.

    As you can see, it's a pretty far-reaching and very hopeful aim at fixing something that the vast majority of our community, Slashdot, view as a broken system.

    So there you have it. Something is broken, here's the proposed solution now let's see if it works. The only possible show stopper I see here is that I'm not so sure it would benefit anyone to join this proposed community of "patent clerks." They are hoping for an army of people to read over patents and notice similarities or infringements for proposed patents. The Wiki's answer to my concer

    • Re:Infant Stage (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:51AM (#15293115) Homepage Journal
      I think that the Wiki is really in its infant stage as there's not much on it. A lot of times, don't they take a huge body of documents and then write an ingestor application to seed a serious Wiki?

      It officially opens on May 12. They still have a few days to load it up beforehand.

      There doesn't seem to be much incentive for the reviewer though I said the same thing about Wikipedia and been proven wrong. In my opinion, patent law is one of the dirtiest of trades and I don't have much desire to become involved in it at all.

      That's exactly why many people will want to help out with this. Slashdot alone has enough people disgusted enough with the patent system to clean things up substantially and help fix it. People can always complain about things, but it's when they're willing to do something about it that things get done.

    • Re:Infant Stage (Score:2, Interesting)

      The same argument could haved been made a while back as to why people would never contribute their time, for free, to an open source software product. People who have a vested or passing interest in collectively making a more open sysem will donate their time in the same way they do for open source software projects.

      The incentive is that consumers will be able to more fully hold companies accountable for their actions resulting in fewer patent lawsuits, unfair competitive advantages, etc. This will all r

    • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:54AM (#15293156) Homepage
      It is astonishing to me that USPTO might be getting a bit of a clue after decades of sucking. They deserve our applause and our help; remember, we're the ones who have been so pissed at them for screwing up the software industry. They look sincere, so bury the hatchet and edit that wiki!
    • Re:Infant Stage (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Znork (31774)
      "I'm not so sure it would benefit anyone to join this proposed community"

      In fact, chances are you'd be punished for joining as it'd leave you exposed to willful infringement claims.

      The patent systems problems cant be solved within the current framework; the system itself isnt founded on a self-balancing financial structure, making it impossible to analyze, optimize and budget for.
      • No - that is why this is the perfect method. It can be anonymous! So you can look around and make sure any patents are new without making your standing in a lawsuit tenuous.

        Good all around.
    • Re:Infant Stage (Score:2, Insightful)

      by swelke (252267)
      The only possible show stopper I see here is that I'm not so sure it would benefit anyone to join this proposed community of "patent clerks." They are hoping for an army of people to read over patents and notice similarities or infringements for proposed patents.

      I suspect that the most productive part of this army will be people hired by the companies most likely to be hurt by bad patents. Companies likely to be hurt by a bad patent in a particular industry will quickly find it worth their while to inv
  • I hope (Score:3, Funny)

    by just_another_sean (919159) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:32AM (#15292977) Homepage Journal
    I do hope that someone has patented this wonderful new technology!

    (sorry, couldn't resist).

    • What if, in the efforts to stop a flood of bad patents, the USPTO runs astray of a patent themselves (likely on something commonly used). As the USPTO I suppose the could revoke the patent in question?
    • "I do hope that someone has patented this wonderful new technology!"

      I know you're being cheeky, but the U.S. Government does not have to honor (at least U.S.) patents. That sort of goes with being the sovereign who gives out the patent rights.
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NOsPAm.optonline.net> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:32AM (#15292979) Journal
    Competition will drive more information into the process. So long as people make valid arguments as rated by their peers, their personal agenda is irrelevant. Having many participants in the process dilutes the effect of any bad apples or unconstructive participants. Within any social reputation system, norms evolve to safeguard the quality of participation and we can expect something similar here.

    Sounds like we already have that here on Slashdot; let us review patent applications. I am sure we can fair and unbiased, especially when it comes to software patents.

  • April Fools? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Buzz_Litebeer (539463) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:33AM (#15292984) Journal
    I had to check the document date to make sure this wasnt a joke. How do we expect that the patent office will be able to take these peer patent reviews seriously? How will this stand up in a court of law?

    Seems a bit shaky.
    • Re:April Fools? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy AT tpno-co DOT org> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:49AM (#15293105) Homepage
      Doesn't matter where the data comes from, as long as it's verifiable, it's still valid data.
      • Doesn't matter where the data comes from, as long as it's verifiable, it's still valid data.

        That is worth repeating. And applies to a lot more than just this endeavor.
    • Take it easy. It's a startup. Let the experiment run for a bit.
    • How do we expect that the patent office will be able to take these peer patent reviews seriously?

      That's their own problem to deal with. It can't be any harder than the question of how they take these patent applications seriously.

      How will this stand up in a court of law?

      Not at all, by design. The peer review system allows the public to research and submit data. The patent examiner will then research what the public come up with, validate it, and reject the patent. This solves the problem of the patent exami
  • by enjahova (812395) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:33AM (#15292986) Homepage
    ...as thousands of nerds choke on their breakfast upon realizing that the USPTO finally read their comments on Slashdot.
    • Heh. We've had USPTO patent workers post here before. It's no secret that some of the people in the patent office read Slashdot.
    • Its true, this news has altered the slashdot paradigm. For instance, I saw the word patent in the title of the story, and I was ready to launch into a lengthy criticism of the patent office. However, when I realized that it was about patent reform, I didn't know what to do. So now I can only write that I am confused.

      Next on slashdot: Microsoft announces it is releasing source code for independent security audits!

      • Next on slashdot: Microsoft announces it is releasing source code for independent security audits!

        Umm... old news [microsoft.com]? I assume this would fall under the "MVP" option if a security audit counts as a "support service".

  • by agent dero (680753) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:43AM (#15293059) Homepage
    If they use a moderation system similar to slashdot's, there's no way it can fail!

    Finally, a fair, completely unbiased way to moderate things...just like on Wikipedia ;)
  • Couldn't spot any reference to payment for reviewers on the site. What would be good to see (if it doesn't already exist) is a fine for anyone submitting a dodgy patent, which could go towards a reward for the reviewer(s) that spot the problems with it.
    • Why would a reviewer need a monitary reward? Think about it this way, if you as a person in a given field, could comment on applications or products your competitors were working on and point out the flaws of 'Hey, everyone's been doing this for years,' wouldn't that be your payoff, as a reviewer? The protection from having someone submit and get approved a commonplace process as novel and then sue the pants off you? Sure seems like a win for me.
    • What would be good to see (if it doesn't already exist) is a fine for anyone submitting a dodgy patent

      My beef with that is it penalizes and discourages an honest patent (you call it a "fine") by lumping it with a patent intentionally filed that duplicates another patent. The alternative is to sift through all the patents in existance yourself. Or pay someone money to do it for you.

      Why shouldn't the filing fee of a patent include checking to determine uniqueness? I would expect the USPTO to not issue a pa
      • Why shouldn't the filing fee of a patent include checking to determine uniqueness?

        Of course the filing fee is supposed to help fund the patent examiner to research the uniqueness of your patent... However, not only is it totally insufficient to fund this activity in the best of situations (the fee is deliberatly set low as to not discriminate against small individual inventors), but remember you are also feeding a highly efficient streamlined government agency with that fee... :^)

    • I think patent applicants already have to cover costs, even if they aren't successful. And while I don't think it is fair to force patent holders who lose their patents through this process to pay a fee, after all it is not their fault the the orginal clerk didn't do a good enough job, I think it would be important for there to be some sort of bounty paid out for tips leading to the revocation of patent rights.

      That might make debunking bunk patents a viable career, and would help ensure this program actual
  • by MartinG (52587) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:44AM (#15293072) Homepage Journal
    This will no doubt help matters, but still the burden of this work is being put on the wrong people. It should be on those who want the patent in the first place.

    If an existing patent grant is subsequently overturned for reasons that the applicant could reasonably discovered themselves then they should be penalised. It should be expected that the applicant has searched exhaustively (or at least as much as can be reasonably expected) before applying in the first place. Why should anyone else have to bear that burden?
    • The problem with your idea is that it is impossible in court to determine if an applicant could have "reasonably discovered" prior art. There are 7 million issued patents and a few million published applications in the US alone, and probably around 50 million patent documents worldwide, in addition to 500 million journal, newspaper, and magazine articles.

      How many of these 1 billion references do I have to look at to satisfy your test? If I look at 1,000 "relevant" references (resulting from a google or ke
    • by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:59AM (#15293207) Homepage Journal
      "This will no doubt help matters, but still the burden of this work is being put on the wrong people. It should be on those who want the patent in the first place."

      But then there is a problem with motivation and bias. Maker of XYZ patent is of course going to say his patent is different than or a vast improvement over patent YXZ, even if the two are virtually identical. The patent submitter has a monetary stake at getting their patent approved, so of course they will do sufficient "research" to "prove" that their patent is unique and appropriate.

      Thus the need for independent reviewers. Which is what frightens me somewhat about opening the process to peers. If MS submits a patent request for a new form of technology, Apple, Sun, IBM and who ever else wants to can flood the review panel with peers with a bias. Preventing MS from acquiring a patent (even a valid one) can prove to be financially beneficial to MS's competitors.

      I think this system will help the process, but there still needs to be significant over-site to ensure that people are not buying the ability to block competitors' patents.

      -Rick
    • It's a broken system. There is a large amount of work to be done for each patent to be processed properly, so on the one hand it makes sense that the person who wants the patent should do that work. On the other hand, though, if you let the applicant have a say in the process of approving/denying the patent, they will surely choose to approve it. How do you make them prove that they have properly checked their patent application against all existing patents, and prior art from the past?
  • Also since the patent workers are "underpaid and overwhelmed" they could hire more and pay them more. Then they'd get better results.

    Also they should team up with the EU. There's no need to have two patent offices both looking at the same things.
    • by DerGeist (956018) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:58AM (#15293197)
      This is so true. The USPTO often recruits near where I live and work. In college, they had a booth at the college career fair and were the only people with NO line whatsoever. They literally had to walk around and ask people to come talk to them. It was pretty sad.

      It wasn't hard to figure out why, they were offering salaries nearly $15k lower than the competition. A CS/EE Master's degree and a 3.9-4.0 GPA would earn you something like $56k. In the DC area that's roughly $35k if you live somewhere with an average cost-of-living. Needless to say, most weren't too interested in the USPTO.

      To make matters worse, the job is awful. You are given x number of patents a week, period. Whether or not you finish them you're still getting them piled on you. It's just one after the other, like sorting mail your whole life. They tried to make it sound exciting, but it just wasn't.

      I spoke with some people who worked at the USPTO. They hated their lives. Their technical skills went completely to waste and they quickly learned you either become a patent lawyer or you flounder and die.

      This grim picture is all the USPTO has to offer to incoming recruits, and no wonder they are understaffed. Lousy patents making it through the system makes sense when you're reduced to hiring the desperate and underqualified. That's why I'm excited about this program. It allows others to help make decisions and provide insight rather than placing the entire burden on an underpaid, understaffed government office. A much needed change.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Also since the patent workers are "underpaid and overwhelmed" they could hire more and pay them more.

      I completely agree. The USPTO has been making record amounts of money since they introduced the "patent everything" policy. But this isn't the USPTO's call; the profits go to the treasury and get spent on other crap.

    • There would sure be a lot of people who would compain about loss of sovereignity, but it would probably* lead to a better system if there was an internation patent office, maybe run through the WTO, or completely independent.

      *Good luck merging each countries patent laws ... software patents alone ... it could lead to a much worse system for those of us outside the US.
      • On the contrary, I much prefer a patchwork, redundant, basically ineffective system, similar to what we have now viewed internationally, than the sort of international entity you'd get if it was designed in the current climate. At least today if you really don't like the IP laws in the U.S., you can go to Russia, Sweden, or China; true national "harmonization," which would be the first step towards any sort of international patent/trademark/copyright office, would remove the last holdouts that haven't submi
      • Perhaps the US and EU could informally partner... The co-owned PatentCheckAgency would just research pending patents and recommend to the US and EU patent depts.
  • I think the program is a great idea, but it is ***optional*** even if it loses its pilot status and becomes a permanent program. I dont think you will see many patentees rushing to sign their applications up for the program, unless the patent applications are likely to cover valuable inventions (having peer review allows the best references to be considered by the USPTO, thereby strengthening any patent that issues).

    Even if the peer review program became mandatory for all applications, who in the public is
    • by GigsVT (208848) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:53AM (#15293135) Journal
      who in the public is going to take the time to review 1,000 patent applications a week, search for prior art, and send the relevant art to the USPTO

      Yeah, that's like expecting thousands of people to write a complete OS and all the applications for it. It'll never happen.
    • Even if the peer review program became mandatory for all applications, who in the public is going to take the time to review 1,000 patent applications a week, search for prior art, and send the relevant art to the USPTO?

      Maybe college/university instructors (or maybe even high school teachers of advanceed classes) could assign students to do a certain amount of work for credit. There are ways it could be made relevant to most areas of study.

    • Anybody with points to spare? Post-grant oppositions need more viability here.

      I don't know what kind of vacuum/entry machine the USPTO has, but they DESPERATELY need some access to those image-searching progrmas that can look at a part and determine in HOW MANY OTHER PRODUCTS that similar shape was submitted. Then, separately, scan for the FUNCTION, then for the END RESULT or TARGET.

      The USPTO needs to abolish slithery, slick-ass, artful description of what is being claimed, described, saved, or such. These
  • How is Ethel suposed to research that for() loop patent? I think they stamp software patents based on a drinking game...
  • My first response was: THANK FUCKING GOD!!! (that got me into a bit of trouble in the university's copmuter lab, but at least my students can't fail me.

    My second response was that, like WalMart's Wikipedia page, this will be taken over by the evil masses of paid-for goons.

    Andy Out!
    • that got me into a bit of trouble in the university's copmuter lab

      Did you already get a patent for that? Seems like a great idea. I mean, you're speeding, cop stops you, but before he opens his mouth you activate your copmuter and drive off! I'd buy one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @10:55AM (#15293159)
    I'd yell at people to RTFA, but the article gets it wrong, too. The reality isn't "USPTO to Use Peer to Patent Program" but "Some random article from a law school proposes USPTO should Use Peer to Patent Program".

    This is an interesting idea, but nothing more than that; an idea.
    • Actually, no. This is a pilot program. From the USPTO website [uspto.gov]:

      The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold a briefing on May 12, 2006, from 9:00 a.m. to noon in the agency's Madison building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA. The USPTO has created a partnership with academia and the private sector to launch an online, peer review pilot project that seeks to ensure that patent examiners will have improved access to all available prior art during the patent examination process.

  • I'm wondering how long it'll be before IBM hunts down prior art for all of SCO's patents.
  • This is the one time I wish "utilizing a Wiki as a means for collaboration" would be patented by someone. Then that someone would sue the USPTO for infringing a patent they granted in the first place! Talk about COOL!!! :))) OK, I'm VERY aware that this didn't make any sense. Nothing to flame here, please move along.
  • for patents issued by Microsoft and other "evil" companies since there is plenty of haters out there to peer review those applications. The "less important companies and individuals will still get by though.
  • The proven level of quality of Wikipedia.org suggests this is an interesting, but not inherently good, idea. Rather than "peer review", a Wiki would be better suited for a "Public Comment" area. It's a matter of setting the proper expectations: public comment is what is really happening here in the general case, and hopefully it's "informed public comment". Formal peer review tends to be picky; public comment can be icky.

    It's a a neat experiment, but having only quickly skimmed some of the wiki at jot.c
  • "Peer to Patent" is a pretty lame euphemism. Sounds more like "Patent Invalidation Program" would be a better name. Or perhaps, "Finally Getting Around to Cleaning Up The FUD."
  • Just in time for Wal-Mart's patent claim on the smiley face [slashdot.org].
    I bet the first entry will be made by Forrest Gump.
  • Next step: Close up shop, turn off lights.
  • by Lobais (743851)
    Python code of a perfect peer to patent program:
    def filterPatents (patents):
            return []

    Well, maybe we aren't that lucky, but it is always a beginning to get rid of the most stupid patents.
  • TFA:
    There is no doubt that, unlike other volunteer, peer review projects in academia or on-line projects such as Slashdot, a peer review system for patents implicates large fortunes and vicious competition.
  • From the article:
    The program will officially begin on May 12.
    I wonder if this will apply to pending patents or just patents submitted after May 12th? Will we see a *bad* patent application rush to avoid the peer review?
  • I hope they emply some sort of karma system to weed out the valdals submitting false reports of prior art and to elevate the opinions of individuals who consistently provide useful information.
  • So, other people do their work for them? I realize they're understaffed and could use some help, but really, this is the best they could come up with? I have an idea: I'll outsource all of you guys to do my job. Between school and work, I'm understaffed, and this way, things get done better. I'll even implement a peer-review moderation system. It's win-win!
  • Okay, can someone type in all of Knuth's "Art of Computer Programming" into the wiki? That'll pre-empt any further software patents.

    I suppose someone could mass-load the project description for every SourceForge project that actually released a file, just to be safe.

    There, no more software patents. Prior art is established.
  • So the Patent Office is basically saying they can't do their job, and they want free help.
    • Not only that, but they can stop hiring all those pesky techies and turn the USPTO into a patent lawyer's club. No subject matter expertise necessary.
  • The USPTO is underfunded because the government TAKES money from the patent application fees. If this is remotely sucessful, the government will just take more money out of the USPTO.
  • It's good that they are thinking in this direction, but I think this is a two-edged sword. In the end, identifying patents is a lot of work; who is going to sit in front of the Wiki every day and weed out one bad patent after another? Maybe companies will do it for their own products, maybe not.

    Also, if the site gets used a lot, there are going to be many comments on approvable patents, and many valid comments questioning the validity of a patent application will require quite a bit of work to understand

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