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Expanded pilot to include additional technology areas to further evaluate the benefits of peer review to patent examination
Washington - The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced a second Peer To Patent pilot program will be initiated with New York Law School's Center for Patent Innovations (CPI). The new, one-year pilot will begin on October 25 and will expand on the previous pilot program-which was limited to software and business methods applications-to also include applications in biotechnology, bioinformatics, telecommunications, and speech recognition.
The Peer To Patent pilot program, begun in 2007, opens the patent examination process to public participation in the belief that such participation accelerates the examination process and improves the quality of patents. Under the pilot program, inventors can opt to have their patent applications posted on the www.peertopatent.org website. Volunteer scientific and technical experts then discuss the applications and submit prior art they think might be relevant to determining if an invention is new and non-obvious, as the law requires. After the review period, the prior art is sent to the USPTO patent examiners for their consideration during examination. The original Peer To Patent pilot, which ran from June 2007 until June 2009, opened the patent examination process up to online public participation for the first time in history.
"By encouraging participation by inventors in a wider array of fields, we hope to gather information that will allow us to further test the value of peer review to patent examination," said USPTO Commissioner for Patents Robert Stoll.
"We are excited about the opportunities presented by this second Peer To Patent pilot," Mark Webbink, Executive Director of CPI, said. "Not only does it continue this preeminent test of open government, but it provides law students from New York Law School and other participating law schools a terrific learning laboratory. We look forward to our continued collaboration with the USPTO."
In the first Peer To Patent pilot, more than 600 items of prior art were submitted for 189 applications and more than 2,700 registered peer reviewers from over 140 countries participated. In a survey of USPTO patent examiners with a Peer To Patent application, 73 percent of those who responded said they thought the program would be helpful if implemented into regular office practice. During the two years the Peer To Patent was running as a pilot, examiners used art found by peer reviewers in approximately 20 percent of the applications reviewed.
Changes in the new pilot include:
- the number of eligible subject matter classes increased threefold,
- peer review time to search for prior art reduced to three months,
- the number of eligible participating applications expanded from 400 to 1,000, and
- the number of items of prior art forwarded to the USPTO reduced from ten to six items.
The Peer To Patent pilot furthers the Administration's goal of enhancing government effectiveness through openness and collaboration-a goal President Obama codified on his first day in office by issuing his Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. That Memorandum called upon agencies to "use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals in the private sector."
The Peer To Patent pilot is one of several open government innovations the USPTO is undertaking to collaborate with the public and increase agency transparency. In June 2010, the USPTO announced a collaboration with Google to make bulk patent and trademark data available online to the public for free at www.uspto.gov/news/pr/2010/10_22.jsp. In September 2010, the USPTO launched a Data Visualization Center at www.uspto.gov/dashboards that shares key patent metrics, with additional agency metrics to be added in the near future. USPTO Director David Kappos has also hosted a public blog for more than a year at www.uspto.gov/blog.
The Peer To Patent pilot is a collaboration with the USPTO and New York Law School and is funded by corporate sponsors GE, HP, IBM, Article One Partners, Microsoft, Open Invention Network, and Red Hat.
For more information about Peer To Patent, please visit www.peertopatent.org or via the USPTO website at www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/peerpriorartpilotindex.jsp.
For non-press inquiries, contact PeerReviewPilot2010@USPTO.gov.