The public will get a chance to review patents before they are approved by the USPTO

The US Patent and Trademark Office has received praise for officially launching the Peer to Patent program -- the purpose of Peer to Patent is to find patents that have been issued for already made products or items that don't properly qualify for a patent.  Because the USPTO usually does not have the manpower and time to thoroughly check every patent that comes into the office, many are unjustly rubber stamped.  A New York law school helped develop the Peer to Patent program that will help ease the workload of "underpaid and overwhelmed" patent examiners.  The pilot program will officially begin on May 12.

One of the goals of the program is to excessively scrutinize inventions while increasing certainty and stability in the patent program.  To get some more information about the Peer to Patent program, please look around this website, which also includes a very extensive FAQ section.  An interesting policy is the project's response on companies or individuals that may attempt to game the system:

Competition will drive more information into the process.  So long as people make valid arguments as rated by their peers, their personal agenda is irrelevant.  Having many participants in the process dilutes the effect of any bad apples or unconstructive participants.  Within any social reputation system, norms evolve to safeguard the quality of participation and we can expect something similar here.

Certainly, there are some interesting connotations with this idea. Imagining IBM, AMD and Intel validating or invalidating each other's patents would solve dozens, if not hundreds of fringe IP law suits before they even occur.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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