As urgent appeals for lawmakers to finally address multiple defects in US patent law appear to finally be taken seriously, the US Patent and Trademark Office is considering riding this wave of upheaval and making a tremendous change of its own: Last week, it announced its official support of a Web site whose purpose will be to encourage citizens to assess the validity of patent applications for themselves, and issue challenges where necessary.
The goal is to expedite the discovery of "prior art" - creations that existed before the applicant for a patent claimed he invented them. If successful, the Peer-to-Patent Web site could become a kind of SourceForge for intellectual property integrity.
The foundation of the Peer-to-Patent community has already been formed, through the work of New York Law School Professor Beth Simone Noveck. Last November, Prof. Noveck's Institute for Information Law and Policy formed an advisory board for the formation of a Community Patent Review project.
Noveck's efforts are backed by an interesting assortment of companies, including Microsoft, Red Hat, IBM, HP, CA, and General Electric.
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