Reform of the U.S. patent system is crucial and policymakers are considering an array of complicated legislative proposals. Yet a new public-private project to be launched this spring by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and several high-tech companies may provide a useful approach that legislation may build on to help solve the problem of poor quality patents, lack of prior art, and lack of USPTO training in complex technologies.
The Peer to Patent (Community Patent Review) Project was originally conceived by Professor Beth Noveck, Director of the New York Law School's Institute for Information Law and Policy. The project has the support of several companies specializing in IT, including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle, Computer Associates, General Electric, Red Hat, Omidyar Network, Intel, and Out of the Box Computing.
The project creates a peer review system for patents that exploits network technology to enable innovation experts to inform the patent examination procedure. The system will support a network of experts to advise the Patent Office on prior art as well as to assist with patentability determinations. The project applies the “wisdom of the crowd” - or, more accurately the wisdom of the experts - to complex social and scientific problems to make it easier to protect the inventor's investment while safeguarding the marketplace of ideas.
The event featured presentations from Professor Beth Noveck, Director of the New York Law School's Institute for Information Law and Policy; Marc Williams, Governmental Programs Executive, Intellectual Property, IBM; and Kaz Kazenske, Senior Director, IP&L-Patent Group, Microsoft followed by a discussion moderated by ITIF President Dr. Robert Atkinson.