While there were a lot of problems with the Gowers Report in the UK on intellectual property reform, there were some interesting suggestions. One was that the UK Patent Office should at least experiment with programs like those proposed in the US to make it easier for outsiders to provide patent examiners with prior art -- perhaps using wiki technology. It's not entirely clear why wiki technology makes sense here -- or is any better than just letting people submit and view examples of prior art (or claims of obviousness). If anything, it seems like people are just saying wiki technology, because that's what's popular. Still, it sounds like the UK Patent Office is open to trying the idea, which seems like it's at least a step in the right direction. However, as people point out in the article, it's really just a way to make a minor improvement to a very broken system that doesn't get at the core issues at all. People have to be very motivated to be watching all of those patents, and the problem doesn't come until much later usually, after the patents have been approved. Unfortunately, this is likely to just be a temporary bandaid, rather than anything that really helps the patent system improve.
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