08 September 2007

US - A patent improvement

The number of patent applications has soared in recent years, but patent offices have been unable to keep up - resulting in huge backlogs and lengthy delays. Standards have slipped and in America the number of lawsuits over contested patents has shot up. In an attempt to fix these problems, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office are evaluating a radical change: opening the process up to internet-based collaboration. The scheme, known as "Peer to Patent", was created by Beth Simone Noveck, a professor at New York Law School. It applies an unusual form of peer review to a process which traditionally involves only a patent applicant and an examiner. Anybody who is interested may comment on a patent application via the internet. The scheme was launched as a one-year pilot programme in America on June 15th. The project is being supported by big technology firms including IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.