Peer To Patent - UK, About The Project
About The Project

On July 14, 2005, Beth Noveck, professor of law at New York Law School, published a blog entitled “Peer to Patent: A Modest Proposal” in which she laid out the concept of engaging citizen experts to assist the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in searching prior art references in the patent examination process.  It is from this “modest” beginning that the Peer To Patent project developed.

With funding from a wide range of foundations (Omidyar Network and MacArthur Foundation) and corporations (CA, GE, HP, IBM, Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft, Red Hat) New York Law School developed the Peer To Patent project. Working in cooperation with the USPTO, the project launched its first one-year pilot on June 15, 2007.  An extension of the pilot commenced July 17, 2008, and the results of those pilots (see, Anniversary Reports) are available on this site.  On October 25, 2010, NYLS commenced its second pilot with the USPTO. The NYLS has now started a pilot of the Peer to Patent process for British patent applications, in cooperation with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).

Peer-to-Patent involves

  1. reviewing and discussing posted patent applications
  2. researching to locate prior art references
  3. uploading prior art references relevant to the claims
  4. annotating and evaluating submitted prior art
  5. forwarding the top ten references, along with commentary, to the patent examiner.

The goal of the pilots is to prove that organized public participation can improve the quality of issued patents.

Anyone in the public can participate as a reviewer or as a patent application facilitator, and by sharing information about the pilot with others. Public participation is crucial to demonstrating the value of openness and making the case for greater accountability to the technical community. A successful pilot will also make a case for expanding to other subject matter.

The US Peer To Patent is largely a student driven project.  While the core student group is part of New York Law School’s Center for Patent Innovations, we encourage and invite student participation from other law schools.  To date we have enjoyed participant from Albany School of Law, University of California Berkeley Law, and Duke Law, but we are constantly working on further outreach.  Student fellows assist in recruiting peer reviewers, facilitating the review of patent applications, reviewing applications and suggesting prior art, and preparing information disclosure statements.  Our student fellows have found that they learn a great deal about the patent process from their involvement in the project.  If you are a student or law professor and want to get involved, please contact us at [email protected].

The UK Pilot has not engaged any specific student group or other groups to provide reviewers. Reviewers are being sought through distribution of publicity literature and emails as well as making use of social media.