Update: Let them read and comment on U.S. patent applications
Bad news: the Peer to Patent website was shut down last month (and apparently almost no one noticed). Officially, the pilot was closed, but it doesn’t look good for a reopening. Mike Masnick suggests that there was simply not enough incentive for people to review patents before they were given. Comments to his post point out the interface for the site was poor.
—- update 6/18/07——-
—-original post 3/5/07—-
The Washington Post explains a trial system that puts US patent applications on the Web for all to see and on which to comment. The wiki-like program is aimed at weeding out well, unneeded patents, early on the in the process and getting input for many experts. In the past only the patent examiners reviewed patents.
The program will begin with 250 patents focussing on software design and only applicants who agree to have their patents in the online system will be used. So far, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and others have said “ok” to that. A reputation system will help push top comments to the patent examiner who will ultimately say if the patent goes forward.
This is a step forward, though it will take a lot of diligence for the experts to read, understand and comment on patents. I wonder if this system was in place if the Web mapping and real estate patents that causing us trouble in the geospatial arena would have been stopped? It’s hard to know.
If this pilot is picked up, what will our (and other) communities do? Would we as a community consider funding an expert (or a few) to review these documents? Do you think private companies will create positions just for this sort of work to look out for things that could potentially shut them down?