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United States Patent and Trademark Office Begins Pilot Program to Open Patent Examination Process for Online Public Participation

Monday, June 18, 2007

Peer-to-Patent Web Site Launched at

New York, NY—Peer-to-Patent, an initiative of New York Law School’s Institute for Information Law and Policy in cooperation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), began on Friday of last week. In an Official Gazette Notice published on June 6, 2007 (, the USPTO announced that this pilot program to test the value of public participation in the patent examination process will run for one year. The USPTO has committed to provide feedback on the usefulness of public submissions. The results of the pilot will be compiled by the USPTO and New York Law School.

CA, GE, HP, IBM, Intel, International Characters, Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft, Oracle, Out of the Box Computing, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo! have requested to participate in the pilot. As of Friday, June 15, five applications (from HP, IBM, Intel, and Red Hat) were made available for public review on the Peer-to-Patent Web site at, and the public has already begun to review and comment. Descriptions of the applications are available at

Special note: Peer-to-Patent Organizers and Steering Committee members will present the project and answer questions at the Peer-to-Patent auditorium on New York Law School’s Democracy Island, Second Life on Monday, June 18 at 12 p.m. PST/3 p.m. EST. Attendees can find the event by searching Second Life’s directory for Democracy Island, or by following this link:

Patent applicants with computer software patent applications to be published during the coming year may apply to join the pilot by completing the form available from the USPTO at Applications accepted to the pilot will be advanced out of turn and reviewed at no charge within one year, instead of the average four-year waiting period. Applicants can also request early publication without payment of an early publication fee.

The Peer-to-Patent Web site enables the public to find information to help the USPTO evaluate the patent application. The custom-designed Web site facilitates:

  • review and discussion of posted patent applications
  • sharing of research to locate references to relevant earlier publications
  • submission of these prior art references with an explanation of relevance
  • annotating and evaluating submitted prior art
  • winnowing of top ten prior art references, which, together with commentary, will be forwarded to the USPTO
  • patent education to inform public participation
  • forwarding of public submissions directly to the USPTO for consideration

Reviewing patent applications is free and open to all via the Peer-to-Patent Web site at

Peer-to-Patent offers the public the opportunity to share the best 10 publications—known in patent law as "prior art"—and commentary that will inform the patent examiner about the invention. The goal of opening up the examination process for public participation is to enable better decision making by the patent examiner and improve patent quality. At present, examiners must assess the validity of a patent application without public input. By reviewing applications and submitting relevant prior art and/or commentary, the public can help get information about publications or fruitful avenues for research to the Patent Office that may otherwise not be accessible.

The Peer-to-Patent software and pilot program have been developed with the sponsorship of CA, GE, HP, IBM, Intellectual Ventures, the MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft, Omidyar Network, and Red Hat. Visit for more information or e-mail to become a community reviewer.

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