Pilot Program Gives Public Chance To Comment On Patent Applications

Effort will test whether collaboration can improve patent examination results.

Even as the U.S. Congress moves ahead on efforts to reform patent law, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is continuing its own efforts to streamline the patent application process. To that end, the USPTO will launch a pilot program to evaluate the extent to which public comment can produce better patent examination results by bringing relevant information to the examiner earlier in the patent approval process.

"Studies have shown that when our patent examiners have the best data in front of them, they make the correct decision," says Jon Dudas, director of the USPTO. "Examiners, however, have a limited amount of time to find and properly consider the most relevant information. This is particularly true in the software-related technologies where code is not easily accessible and is often not dated or well documented."

The pilot is slated to start June 15 and targets only computer software applications. In addition, applicants who filed or will file applications must volunteer to place their entries into the pilot program.

Collaborative review of the patent applications will occur on a peer-to-patent Website located at www.peertopatent.org. The Web site is run by the New York Law School's Institute for Information Law and Policy, which is cooperating with the USPTO on aspects of the pilot program.

Additional information about the pilot is available at http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent.

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