UK follows Aussie social patent review trial


Crowd-sourcing to solve patent office limitations.

The UK will apply a new, web-based patent peer review program to 200 computing applications, in attempts to improve the quality of patent grants.

The review process will allow industry experts to provide feedback on patent applications. Summaries will be sent to a Patent Examiner at the UK’s Intellectual Property Office prior to a decision being made.

“The pilot will give experts the opportunity to comment on patent applications and share their vital expertise before patents are granted," said Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Wilcox.

"It will also mean that inventions already known in the wider community will be filtered out more readily.”

A majority of the new applications listed on the UK’s Peer to Patent site were from IBM. Two were from British chip maker ARM Limited.

Peers had 90 days to offer feedback on patent applications. Two hundred applications were expected to be uploaded by the trial’s completion at the end of 2011.

Peer-to-Patent, which has operated from the New York Law School since 2007, was first trialled by the US Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO), and later in Australia. 

Australia’s 12-month trial, run by the Queensland University of Technology and IP Australia, focussed on business methods and computer software [PDF]. 

At the end of the 90 review period, a community-picked top 10 list of submissions was forwarded to IP Australia for consideration. 

The Peer-to-Patent idea was hatched in 2005, after New York Law School professor of law Beth Noveck published a blog outlining a concept centred on engaging “citizen experts” to assist the USPTO search for prior art references in the patent examination process.

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