Urenio Watch Watch: Collaborative Innovation

Community Patent Review

peer-to-patent.gifPeer-to-Patent is an initiative by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that opens the patent examination process to public participation for the first time. Peer-to-Patent is an online system that aims to improve the quality of issued patents by enabling the public to supply the USPTO with information relevant to assessing the claims of pending patent applications.

This pilot project, which has started in summer 2007, intends to harness the power of online collaboration to streamline patent review. The website connects an open network for community input to the legal decision-making process.

The patent examiner makes the final determination on he basis of legal standards. This process combines the democracy of open participation with the legitimacy and effectiveness of administrative decision making. In summer 2007, the USPTO will pilot the Peer-to-Patent system with Computer Architecture, Software, and Information Security patent applications.

There’s never been a bridge built between the information available in these expert communities and the government institutions that make these important policy decisions,

says Peer-to-Patent founder Beth Noveck. Noveck is a professor at New York Law School and the director of the school’s Institute for Information Law and Policy. She is also the director of the Democracy Design Workshop, which is running an experiment, called Do Tank, to encourage research into projects that foster community and encourage citizens to take action.

The Peer-to-Patent community review process

The Peer-to-Patent community review process

Peer-to-Patent involves 1) review and discussion of posted patent applications, 2) research to locate prior art references 3) uploading prior art references relevant to the claims, 4) annotating and evaluating submitted prior art, and 5) top ten references, along with commentary, forwarded to the USPTO. The goal of this pilot is to prove that organized public participation can improve the quality of issued patents.

Anyone in the public can participate as a reviewer, a patent application facilitator, and by sharing information about the pilot with others. Inventors can submit a qualified patent application for open review.

The reviewers:

  • Find, review, and discuss patent applications submitted for open review.
  • Research published resources relevant to the patent application’ s claims.
  • Upload and explain prior art for the community.
  • Annotate, evaluate, and rank each other’ s prior art.
  • Create the “top ten’ list of prior art references generated and forwarded to the USPTO.

The facilitators:

  • Encourage community involvement by posting updates on the application home page.
  • Jump-start participation with your own postings to the discussion board.
  • Focus community attention on finding prior art and identifying experts who might know where to find it.
  • Help flag any important or inappropriate content.

The participating inventors:

  • Get their application reviewed sooner.
  • Strengthen the quality of their patent.
  • Find information to make their application better.
  • Participate in improving the patent examination process.
  • Enjoy the benefits of community review and research.
  • Discover the community of innovators with common interests and expertise.

USPTO considers public participation is crucial to demonstrating the value of openness and making the case for greater USPTO accountability to the technical community. A successful pilot will also make a case for expanding to other subject matter.


Peer-to-Patent website