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Peer to Patent Project Extended and Expanded - Mark Webbink Exec. Dir. of New Center
Wednesday, July 16 2008 @ 05:28 PM EDT

I'm very happy to tell you that it's just been announced that the Peer-to-Patent project, which is a cooperative project between New York Law School and the USPTO, has been extended after the first year's trial. It's also been expanded to include business methods patents! Yum. I can't wait to see you try to invalidate some of those.

And better still, Mark Webbink has been named Executive Director of a new Center for Patent Innovations:

"I'm pleased to announce the new Center, which will lead the way in reforming the international patent system," said Mark Webbink, Executive Director of the new Center. "CPI will become a pioneer in the patent field, helping to create an environment of participation with patent examiners, scientists, and knowledgeable experts, thereby improving the understanding and effectiveness of patent systems. Establishing the Center for Patent Innovations was a natural progression for the Peer-to-Patent project."

By the way, there are some new applications up for review, I see. So if you know anything about booting utilizing email, client-initiated authentication, internet memory access, disambiguation in dynamic binary translation, creation of hanging protocols using graffiti-enabled devices, version control for application message models, or matching a slideshow to an audio track, this is your moment.

This is the first time the public has been involved in a project that actually can directly impact decisions by a US government agency. The press release says that the Law School has now launched a project to develop software specifically for the public to use to help improve the patent system.

You remember Mark Webbink, I'm sure. He was, for most of Groklaw's life, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Red Hat. He's a great guy, and super competent, so this is wonderful news. Perhaps you remember he let me publish an article of his on Groklaw about understanding open source software way back in December of 2003.

What does this announcement mean to me? That all our efforts to understand patent law and how to effectively search for prior art have been for a practical purpose, so dry as a bone as the subject is, let's keep on trying. And it means the USPTO recognizes that they do need help from the FOSS community to get prior art to their examiners before damage is done. That was the stated purpose of the Peer-to-Patent project, after all.

Here's the press release:

******************************

USPTO and New York Law School Announce Extension and Expansion of Peer-to-Patent Pilot

NYLS Announces New Center for Patent Innovations to Be Led by Former Red Hat Executive Mark Webbink

New York, NY(July, 16, 2008)-New York Law School, in cooperation with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO), today announced the extension of the Peer-to-Patent project, the year-long pilot done by the Law School and the USPTO to streamline the patent examination process by opening it to scientific and technical experts. The project will be extended until June 15, 2009 and expanded to include applications in the automated business data processing technologies, or business methods, in Class 705, as announced by the USPTO in the Patent Official Gazette. View the USPTO announcement here.

In the announcement from the USPTO, Jon Dudas, the Office's Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, said, "The USPTO continues to support the pilot of Peer Review to help it fulfill its promise as a way to help get the best prior art expeditiously before the examiner. Extending and expanding the pilot to include business method patent applications will add more participants to the pilot and help us and the public better assess the effectiveness of Peer Review."

Peer-to-Patent, founded by Professor Beth Noveck, is the first social networking project with a direct link to decision making by the federal government. Data from the first year of the pilot shows that an open network of peer reviewers can improve the quality of information available to patent examiners. The project's full anniversary report is available here.

Due to the success of Peer-to-Patent, the Law School has launched the Center for Patent Innovations (CPI), a group that will focus on developing community-building technology to improve the patent system. CPI will incorporate the Peer-to-Patent project and expand it by developing software-based service solutions that can be used by governments and communities of interest, designing methods for government and corporate partners to work together to produce better patents, and drafting legal frameworks to enable and enhance collaborative opportunities. Professor Noveck will serve as Chairman of the Board of Advisors.

"I'm pleased to announce the new Center, which will lead the way in reforming the international patent system," said Mark Webbink, Executive Director of the new Center. "CPI will become a pioneer in the patent field, helping to create an environment of participation with patent examiners, scientists, and knowledgeable experts, thereby improving the understanding and effectiveness of patent systems. Establishing the Center for Patent Innovations was a natural progression for the Peer-to-Patent project."

The Center for Patent Innovations will further the work begun during the first year of the Peer-to-Patent pilot. Its launch is made possible by a generous $800,000 grant from the Omidyar Network.

"Peer-to-Patent has demonstrated that opening the patent process to input from the public can improve governmental decision making," said Will Fitzpatrick, Director of Legal Affairs at Omidyar Network. "We are happy to help New York Law School continue its pioneering work to create systems that lead to more informed decisions about patentability by funding the development of the Center for Patent Innovations."

Intellectual property expert Mark Webbink brings more than 20 years of experience to his leadership of the Center. He was formerly the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Red Hat, the premier Linux and open source vendor. During his tenure with Red Hat he developed a number of groundbreaking intellectual property practices, including Red Hat's Patent Promise and the legal foundations for Red Hat's subscription model for open source software. Webbink has written and spoken extensively on the subject of the U.S. patent system and the need for reform, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property; the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice; and the National Academy of Sciences. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Software and Information Industry Association and a present board member of the Software Freedom Law Center.

About New York Law School

Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city's centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School's renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School's strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. The School is noted for its eight academic centers: Center for International Law, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center for Real Estate Studies, Center on Business Law & Policy, Center on Financial Services Law, Institute for Information Law & Policy, and Justice Action Center. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and enrolls some 1,500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. program and its Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation program. www.nyls.edu.


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