Peer-to-Patent Pilot Releases Second-Year Report Demonstrating Success of Public Participation in Patent Process

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Peer-to-Patent, the groundbreaking Web-based governmental "social networking" project, has released a second anniversary report, which illustrates the success of the pilot in improving patent quality by connecting the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to an open network of scientific and technical experts to enhance the patent examination process.

Our Second Anniversary reports evidences the fact that Peer-to-Patent has made a consistent and valuable contribution to improving access to relevant prior art

Peer-to-Patent, the groundbreaking Web-based governmental "social networking" project, has released a second anniversary report, which illustrates the success of the pilot in improving patent quality by connecting the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to an open network of scientific and technical experts to enhance the patent examination process.

Peer-to-Patent is one of the projects featured on the White House Open Government Innovations Gallery, which "celebrates the innovators and innovations who are championing the President's vision of more effective and open government." Peer-to-Patent, conducted by the Center for Patent Innovations at the Law School, is the first social networking project with a direct link to decision making by the federal government. It was launched on June 15, 2007 by Professor Beth Simone Noveck, together with a network of corporate and academic collaborators, consent from the USPTO, participation from citizen experts, and the efforts of dozens of law students.

Under traditional practices, USPTO patent examiners bear the sole burden of identifying and relating information pertinent to patent applications. Under Peer-to-Patent, expert volunteers were permitted to assist in these efforts at the http://www.peertopatent.org Web site. With the consent of participating inventors, patent applications were posted to the Peer-to-Patent site where expert reviewers discussed the applications and submitted bibliographic information, known as prior art, relevant to determining if an invention was new and non-obvious, as the law requires to obtain a patent. At the conclusion of the review period, this prior art was forwarded to the USPTO patent examiners for consideration and use in their further search efforts.

After the initial success of what began as a one-year pilot, the Peer-to-Patent project was expanded by the USPTO for another year to include patent applications in Class 705: Business Methods and E-Commerce. Major companies such as GE, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft--companies whose patent portfolios account for nearly one-third of the patents issued to the top 30 U.S. patent holders in 2008--all submitted patent applications to the Peer-to-Patent process. Other patent applications were submitted by Cisco, Disney Enterprises, Ebay Inc., Novel, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, Xerox, and Yahoo!, as well as smaller firms.

Data from the second year of the Peer-to-Patent pilot shows that over the course of two years, the Peer-to-Patent Web site has attracted more than 74,000 visitors in 161 countries/territories and that an open network of reviewers can improve the quality of information available to patent examiners.

Highlights from the second-year report include:

  •     Peer-to-Patent continues to contribute relevant prior art relied upon by the USPTO in more than 25 percent of the applications it handles. Since Peer-to-Patent launched, 66 office actions have been issued for applications that have undergone peer review on the Web site. In total, the USPTO used Peer-to-Patent submitted prior art references to reject one or more claims in 18 patent applications.
  •     The number of participating applications increased from 71 in year one to 187 as of May 30, 2009.
  •     The number of participating applicants increased 329 percent from year one to two.
  •     75 percent of reviewers think that a third-party submission of prior art program like Peer-to-Patent should be incorporated into regular USPTO practice.

"Our Second Anniversary reports evidences the fact that Peer-to-Patent has made a consistent and valuable contribution to improving access to relevant prior art," Mark Webbink, Executive Director of the Center for Patent Innovations, said. "We look forward to peer reviewers routinely participating in the normal patent examination process."

To view the Peer-to-Patent report in its entirety, visit:
http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent/CPI_P2P_YearTwo_hi.pdf

On June 15, 2009, the USPTO elected to close Peer-to-Patent to new applications until it can complete a full evaluation of the impact the project has had on the patent examination process. There remain more than 70 applications on the Peer-to-Patent Web site awaiting review, and interest in the program remains high as evidenced by the continued interest of applicants, the federal government, educational institutions, and international patent offices.

About the Center for Patent Innovations
New York Law School formed the Center for Patent Innovations in June 2008 as a part of the Institute for Information Law & Policy. The Center is focused on bringing real-world technology solutions to improve government operations, particularly in the area of patent law. The Center for Patent Innovations will continue to pursue innovations in patent law and has launched a number of projects related to Peer-to-Patent, such as the Post-Issue Peer-to-Patent http://www.post-issue.org, which extends the community-based approach of finding prior art relevant to re-examination of patents that have already been granted.

About Peer-to-Patent
Peer-to-Patent is an initiative of the Center for Patent Innovations in cooperation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Peer-to-Patent software and pilot program were developed with the sponsorship of CA, GE, HP, IBM, Intellectual Ventures, the MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft, Omidyar Network, and Red Hat. Visit http://www.peertopatent.org for more information.

About New York Law School
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city's centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School's renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School's strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. The School is noted for its eight academic centers: Center on Business Law & Policy, Center on Financial Services Law, Center for International Law, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center for Real Estate Studies, Institute for Information Law & Policy, and Justice Action Center. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and enrolls some 1,500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. program and its four advanced degree programs in financial services law, real estate, tax, and mental disability law studies. http://www.nyls.edu

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