Patent peer review is coming! Later this week, the PTO will announce its pre-grant Patent Peer Review Pilot Project. (Announcement May 12, 9:00am-noon; register here.).
The USPTO has created a partnership with academia and the private sector to launch an online, peer review pilot project that seeks to ensure that patent examiners will have improved access to all available prior art during the patent examination process.
The peer-review system is not intended to replace patent examiners — what the system will do is allow the public to review pending patent applications and provide relevant prior art. Using a ranking system (like slashdot), the public will essentially vote to determine which prior art references are the most relevant. The general idea is to help make sure that the best prior art is seen by the patent examiner.
The project is the brain-child of Professor Noveck at NYLS, but IBM and other tech companies have signed-on with their support. The pilot will primarily focus on “technology” patents rather than pharmaceuticals, and will only review applications after receiving inventor permission.
The pilot will not require a rule change because the references will be sent to the examiner without comment — although the examiner could potentially read the comments on the peer review website.
Why volunteer your patent for review: (1) This could make your patent very strong it makes it through peer review; (2) The pilot will be getting lots of press — publicity for your inventions; (3) PTO will not want to delay examination of the application because it is in the public eye; (4) There is a potential that volunteering for the peer review could serve essentially as a “petition to make special.”
This project is still being developed, so comments at this stage may have a significant impact.