After trials in USA, Australia, Japan and Korea, the Peer-to-Patent system is finally being trialled by the UK Intellectual Property office from 1st June 2011.
The Peer to Patent initiative was originally launched in USA and the first trial was completed in 2009. The initiative was launched in order to assist patent offices with their examination procedures, by improving their access to external resources. In essence, the scheme is a way of crowd sourcing information, by obtaining public input to further justify patent office decisions. The thought behind the scheme is that by using external resources and alternative professional opinions from scientific, technical and legal communities, the IPO can better substantiate granted patents, leading to fewer litigation disputes.
The IPO are working closely with the initiative’s creators from the New York Law School to ensure that the trial is as successful as it has proven in USA, as well as in Australia, Japan and Korea, who took on trials of the scheme in the subsequent years following its American success.
The system itself is a social-software site www.peertopatent.org.uk where users can register to access published patent applications and cite prior art, as well as divulging their own comments on the applications. For the UK trial, currently only electronic format applications will be available on the site. These are the applications that have been submitted using the online submission procedure available through the IPO.
Although published patent applications are already accessible by the public, this system will allow reviewers to discuss openly the applications, as well as conducting their own research and prior art searches and annotating, evaluating and ranking prior art citations from other members. The difference between this and other forums is that patent examiners will be able to use the material cited and discussed within this community, within their examination reports and not only reference it but allow it to influence their final decision.
The hope is that, in doing so, fairer decisions can be made by the IPO on the results of patent applications and, resultantly, fewer disputes may occur post-grant. This means that the decision to grant is not only justified by one individual patent examiner but is supported by a professional community and their informative responses, enforcing the 21st century capability of crowd sourcing.