Wikipedia is widely regarded as an excellent online resource for those wishing to find information on just about anything or anyone. Granted, it is hardly a source that has the credibility to be used for a research paper, but the sheer breadth of information and the fact that it is fairly accurate most of the time means it is a good place to start to find out ‘stuff.’ Wikipedia’s strength is in the number of its contributors, a.k.a. anybody with an internet connection who wants to submit info. Well, Beth Noveck’s Peer-to-Patent project, as written about in Peter Zura’s 271 Patent blog, utilizes a somewhat similar model to that of the Wikipedians. As has been discussed extensively on this blog and elsewhere, changing the patent system for the better is a hot topic, and has been for some time. There have been proposals for legislative changes, judicial changes, and of course changes within the USPTO itself. The motivations for the call of patent reform are many, but everyone can agree that speeding up the process of granting patents and eliminating the possibility that ‘bad’ (read: invalid) patents are granted would be an improvement to the current system. The Peer-to-Patent project could become a method to reform that will allay some of the concerns of the current patent system’s critics. Basically, the system will initially be on a voluntary basis, that is, a prospective inventor may submit his application for peer review. The system allows for what amounts to all PHOSITA’s to participate in the patent examining process by submitting prior art that may be relevant to the application. There is a review board for Peer-to-Patent as well, much as the Wikipedians aim to keep their information as accurate as possible, and the review board serves as quality assurance. As envisioned, the system exponentially expands the USPTO’s resources because of the huge network of scientists and engineers who have knowledge in the application’s field, and can now aid the USPTO directly.

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