You may have read already the announcement about the USPTO's workshop on Friday about the Peer to Patent Project in News Picks, or perhaps you saw the Daily Tech article, also on Slashdot today:
The public will get a chance to review patents before they are approved by the USPTO
The US Patent and Trademark Office has received praise for officially launching the Peer to Patent program .... Because the USPTO usually does not have the manpower and time to thoroughly check every patent that comes into the office, many are unjustly rubber stamped. A New York law school helped develop the Peer to Patent program that will help ease the workload of "underpaid and overwhelmed" patent examiners. The pilot program will officially begin on May 12.
I've been quiet today because I was "attending" (teleconference) a brainstorming session about it. I learned a lot, and at the same time I wanted to try to input what I think you'd want said. What I wanted to know, personally, was whether the USPTO was serious about improving, or whether input would be used in counterproductive ways or even ignored. The answer to that seems to depend to some extent on how well things get organized, because a large part of the problem is patent examiners are seriously buried and can only give a set amount of time to each application. This project isn't about getting rid of software patents; but it is about trying to prevent stupid patents from issuing in the first place. I'm not sure that means there will be fewer patents. Think of the Blackberry story, and then imagine that you could prevent it from ever happening. Here is the draft of the Peer to Patent Project proposal.
This Friday, May 12, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold a briefing on the project. It's open to the public, but you need to let them know you want to attend, if you do. The May 12 briefing will be held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from 9:00 a.m. to noon in the agency’s Madison building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA. For further details about the meeting, please visit http://www.uspto.gov.
The May 12 briefing will be hosted by John Doll, Commissioner for Patents, USPTO, and Jay Lucas, Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy.
Professor Beth Noveck,
Director, Institute for Information Law & Policy,
New York Law School, who heads the project, will lead the presentation on the Peer Review Pilot Project along with Manny W. Schecter, Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property for IBM, and Marc Ehrlich, Counsel, Patent Portfolio Management, Intellectual Property Law, IBM.
The purpose of the May 12, 2006 briefing is to provide greater in-depth analysis of the peer review pilot project as well as answer the question of what constitutes valid prior art.
The represents a kick-off of the peer review project and the effort to move from proposal to working prototype with a launch at the beginning of 2007.
For updates on the project and to subscribe to the new listserv, please visit http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent . It is not by any means too late to input your ideas.