Thursday, September 11, 2008

US public invited to review proposed patents in egovernment Peer-to-Patent initiative

The US Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO), is trialing opening the patent examination process to public participation.

This allows members of the public to review pending patent applications and provide input and feedback into the process of assessing patent claims.

In effect, the patent office is acknowledging that the US public has the capacity to improve the US patent process by providing due diligence and scrutiny that the USPTO is unable to provide.

Via the website Peer-to-Patent, members of the public are able to register to review a select set of 400 pending US patents, in an initial pilot program to assess the feasibility of inviting public comments on patent applications.

While I've only just become aware of it, this isn't a new initiative - the pilot has been running for over a year and has generated enormous interest across the patent community.

The Japanese opened their own version of the peer-to-patent site in July 2008, titled Community Patent Review.

This type of project reflects the crowdsourcing potential of the internet, inviting the community to participate, comment on and support (or indicate lack of support) of government-run initiatives, rather than being held at arms length and only consulted according to the government's preferred consultation medium.

Another example I have previously discussed is the New Zealand Wiki Policing Act 2008 which used an online wiki to suggest contents.

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