Peer-To-Patent About To Come Back?
from the will-it-actually-work-this-time? dept
We’ve been a bit critical of the Peer-to-Patent program that was tested in the US a couple years ago. The idea — which I appreciate — was that certain patent applications would be opened up in a “crowdsourcing”-style, for the wider community to provide evidence of prior art. My problem with it wasn’t the concept of involving others, but the idea that prior review during the application process would really be all that meaningful or useful in the long run. That’s because it’s often tough to get the necessary people to care about a bad patent or bad patent application until it’s being used against them. So the incentives to keep swatting down bad patents just isn’t that exciting. Second, the worst of the bad patents are ones that are asserted later, for something that seems completely different or unexpected, but which the patent holder claims violates their patent. It’s tough to predict that ahead of time. Finally, the program only focused on prior art, not obviousness, which is an even bigger issue.
Yes, you could argue that such a peer review system wouldn’t hurt, but it often felt like the program’s backers thought it would solve most of the problems of the patent system, where I can only see it maybe helping out at the margins. That’s why we weren’t surprised at all to find out that the program had quitely shut down last year and almost no one had noticed.
However, it appears they’re attempting a comeback. Eric Goldman forwarded us the following email (I’d link to the web version, which was included, but whatever crappy email software the company uses gives me control over Eric’s account at the link — so I could unsubscribe him if I wanted to — and I figure it’s best not to share that with the world). So, instead, I’ll just pass along the text:
We are happy to announce that Peer To Patent will be relaunching this October with a new platform and many new features that will immensely improve the efficacy of the program. The Peer To Patent Team has been hard at work readying the new platform for its third run and we are excited to share the new developments with all of you.
First, you all will immediately notice that we have updated the Peer To Patent website with a new interface. The new version is designed to handle applications from multiple patent offices, in order to simplify the process of contributing to all three Peer To Patent pilot programs.
Second, we are very excited to announce that we will be expanding the list of classifications that are eligible for review through the program. Some of these new classifications are organic compounds, telecommunications and life sciences. Many of the new classifications are quite different than those in previous renditions of Peer To Patent. We ask that you spread the word to fellow professionals that may be skilled in these arts so that we can continue to provide the outstanding level of peer review that previous classifications have enjoyed on the website.
In that spirit, we want to thank you all for the work you have put in during the past two iterations of Peer To Patent and express our anticipation that this will be our best year yet. David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office, recently stated that, “the reviewers found significant prior art, especially in non-patent literature… Our mission as an agency is to get the best prior art in front of examiners. There clearly is value in the project.” It seems clear that we will improve, not only the quality of patents, but also the patent system as a whole. Let’s make sure that we all take the initiative to participate in the new installment of the Peer To Patent program.
I’m happy to support anything that will actually improve the overall patent system so that it enables innovation rather than hinders it, but I’m still not sure that this program will actually do very much, other than on the margins.