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USPTO and New York Law School Announce Extension and Expansion of Peer-to-Patent Pilot

Thursday, July 17, 2008

NYLS Announces New Center for Patent Innovations to Be Led by Former Red Hat Executive Mark Webbink

New York, NY -- New York Law School, in cooperation with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO), today announced the extension of the Peer-to-Patent project, the year-long pilot done by the Law School and the USPTO to streamline the patent examination process by opening it to scientific and technical experts. The project will be extended until June 15, 2009 and expanded to include applications in the automated business data processing technologies, or business methods, in Class 705, as announced by the USPTO in the Patent Official Gazette. View the USPTO announcement at

In the announcement from the USPTO, Jon Dudas, the Office’s Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, said, "The USPTO continues to support the pilot of Peer Review to help it fulfill its promise as a way to help get the best prior art expeditiously before the examiner. Extending and expanding the pilot to include business method patent applications will add more participants to the pilot and help us and the public better assess the effectiveness of Peer Review."

Peer-to-Patent, founded by Professor Beth Noveck, is the first social networking project with a direct link to decision making by the federal government. Data from the first year of the pilot shows that an open network of peer reviewers can improve the quality of information available to patent examiners. The project’s full anniversary report is available at

Due to the success of Peer-to-Patent, the Law School has launched the Center for Patent Innovations (CPI), a group that will focus on developing community-building technology to improve the patent system. CPI will incorporate the Peer-to-Patent project and expand it by developing software-based service solutions that can be used by governments and communities of interest, designing methods for government and corporate partners to work together to produce better patents, and drafting legal frameworks to enable and enhance collaborative opportunities. Professor Noveck will serve as Chairman of the Board of Advisors.

"I’m pleased to announce the new Center, which will lead the way in reforming the international patent system," said Mark Webbink, Executive Director of the new Center. "CPI will become a pioneer in the patent field, helping to create an environment of participation with patent examiners, scientists, and knowledgeable experts, thereby improving the understanding and effectiveness of patent systems. Establishing the Center for Patent Innovations was a natural progression for the Peer-to-Patent project."

The Center for Patent Innovations will further the work begun during the first year of the Peer-to-Patent pilot. Its launch is made possible by a generous $800,000 grant from the Omidyar Network.

"Peer-to-Patent has demonstrated that opening the patent process to input from the public can improve governmental decision making," said Will Fitzpatrick, Director of Legal Affairs at Omidyar Network. "We are happy to help New York Law School continue its pioneering work to create systems that lead to more informed decisions about patentability by funding the development of the Center for Patent Innovations."

Intellectual property expert Mark Webbink brings more than 20 years of experience to his leadership of the Center. He was formerly the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Red Hat, the premier Linux and open source vendor. During his tenure with Red Hat he developed a number of groundbreaking intellectual property practices, including Red Hat’s Patent Promise and the legal foundations for Red Hat’s subscription model for open source software. Webbink has written and spoken extensively on the subject of the U.S. patent system and the need for reform, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property; the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice; and the National Academy of Sciences. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Software and Information Industry Association and a present board member of the Software Freedom Law Center.

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 for International Law, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center for Real Estate Studies, Center on Business Law & Policy, Center on Financial Services Law, 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 Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation program.

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