USPTO encouraged by peer patent review

A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office official praised the results of a patent review program pilot that used the public's knowledge to examine patent applications.

The Peer to Patent pilot program – which lasted a year until April – provided nearly 173 pieces of publicly accessible information used to prove originality  of a patent for 40 participating information technology-related applications. No new patent applications were submitted through the program.

Evidence submitted by program users was used by the USPTO to reject nine of those applications. Examiners rejected three other applications citing information gained from the pilot program.

“We are encouraged by the initial success of the pilot, and we believe it holds potential as a source of relevant prior art [the evidence used],” USPTO Commissioner for Patents John Doll said.

The New York Law School’s Center for Patent Innovations created the program to test the viability of using a public community of patent examiners. The pilot program involved more than 2,000 registered users, and the majority were computer professionals.

Users would submit and comment on the evidence on applications. Those comments would then be debated and graded by other registered examiners for accuracy and relevance. Users would also grade each other based upon the overall quality of the submissions and discussion posts.

In the center’s Peer to Patent blog, law school officials expressed interest in extending the pilot through 2008 to 2009.

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