IPO's Peer to Patent site gets 100 reviewers to assess computing patent applications

Around 2,000 people have visited the government's Peer to Patent social media site, with 100 reviewers now signed up.

Around 2,000 people have visited the government's Peer to Patent social media site, with 100 reviewers now signed up.

The Peer to Patent scheme was launched earlier this month and allows users to sign up as a peer reviewer, to aid patent examiners researching applications. Each application gets 90 days of exposure, with around 10 proposals added each week.

The technology behind the site was developed by the New York Law School in partnership with the United States Patents and Trademark Office and the UK's Intellectual Property Office over a number of years.

So far most visitors have hailed from the UK, but people from 62 other countries have also visited the site.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, minister for IP Judith Wilcox said she is delighted the UK is the first EU country to take part in the pilot project. America is on its second pilot, while Australia, Korea and Japan are also piloting the Peer to Patent scheme.

"We hope it will raise the quality of applications by getting people to comment on the website and reduce the number of lawsuits by creating patents that are more secure in the market," said Judith Wilcox.

"We also hope it will give small businesses more confidence to apply for patents, as they often find the system complicated and only for the big boys. We are very keen to encourage patents from SMEs as they are the companies of the future," she added.

Wilcox says that, in light of the Hargreaves Review - which aims to update copyright laws for the digital age - the Intellectual Property Office is keen to ensure it is fit for purpose for the modern world with schemes such as the Peer to Patent social media tool.

The scheme is based on a 2005 proposal by New York law professor Beth Noveck, who was recently appointed to work alongside Martha Lane Fox, Tim Kelsey and Tom Steinberg to harness new technologies to find ways of making the UK government more innovative and accountable.

So far the pilot is only being applied to computing patents. Wilcox says this area of industry was chosen because it sees a lot of patent activity and is a group which tends to be vocal on the internet and likely to build a community.

If the Peer to Patent scheme is successful it may be extended to other areas of industry: "We are keen to keep an open mind and learn from the findings," Wilcox said.

"Professor Noveck was the first to talk about the wisdom of crowds. We are keen to make full use of the possibilities provided by the internet," she said.

Once the website closes at the end of the year the IPO will publish a full report.


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