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02 June 2011, 09:24

UK launches Peer to Patent pilot project

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A UK "Peer To Patent" pilot project has been launched by the Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Wilcox. "Peer to patent" is a program to identify prior art in patent applications by harnessing the wider community of experts and engaged citizens and which was inspired by a 2005 proposal by Beth Noveck, professor of law at New York Law School.

The UK project's web site is accompanied by a blog on which Nigel Hanley, a Senior Examiner in the Intellectual Property Office, gives an overview of how the pilot project will operate. The intention is to gain access to wider knowledge and understanding of the subjects of patent applications in order to improve the quality of issued patents. Approximately 10 applications from the field of computing will be added each week, and for the following 90 days comments and documents will be accepted from reviewers who have registered with the site; the purpose being to help judge whether the subject of an application is genuinely new and inventive. After the 90 day period, the application review process will continue inside the patent office.

Hanley points out that one difference between the current project and earlier pilots in the US and Australia is that the UK project is also making the IPO search report available. This is the Examiner written report that lists the documents they thought were relevant when they searched the application. The Peer to Patent initiative was originally undertaken by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); the first US pilot program closed two years ago and a second is currently under way. The UK press release describes both the US and Australian pilots as successful. Japan and South Korea have also started small projects.

Anybody wishing to contribute to this open review process must first register; all that is needed is an email address and a name – it is requested, although not insisted, that contributors use their real names. The UK pilot is due to end on 31 December 2011.


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