Monday, September 15, 2008

Government Issued Patents Set to Include Web Social Networking Component

Some of the biggest players in the technology industry complain that the U.S. patent system is broken -- putting too many patents of dubious merit in the hands of people who can use them to drag companies and other inventors to court. An experimental program launched in June 2007 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and backed by the technology industry that is intended to give the public -- including inventors -- more of a voice in the system. The concept behind the program, called Peer-to-Patent, is straightforward: Publish patent applications on the Web for all to see and let anyone with relevant expertise -- academics, colleagues, even potential rivals -- offer input to be passed along to the Patent Office. By using the power of the Internet to tap the wisdom of the masses, Peer-to-Patent aims to dig up hard-to-find "prior art" -- evidence that an invention already exists or is obvious and therefore doesn't deserve a patent. The goal is to locate prior art that Patent Office examiners might not find on their own -- and to produce better patents by reducing ones granted on applications that aren't novel. The hope is that this will drive innovation by improving the patent process and reducing the patent infringement lawsuits clogging the courts.

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