The US Patent and Trademark Office has launched "Peer to Patent," a community patent peer review project. The USPTO is overloaded with patent filings, so it does little or no investigation into patnets before rubber-stamping them, expecting that the courts will sort out who invented what. This changes the patent system from something that promotes invention to something that rewards companies who aggressively sue inventors.
Peer to Patent aims to address this by encouraging the public to review patents, to determine whether they are valid based on the at-large expert knowledge about what has already been invented and what is a new, useful, nonobvious invention. IBM has agreed to have its patents vetted by the public as a guinea pig in the project.
Project founder Beth Novacek sez,
This Friday, May 12, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold a briefing on the community patent peer review project.
The May 12 briefing will be hosted by John Doll, Commissioner for Patents, USPTO, and Jay Lucas, Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy.
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.