Pilot website allows the public to examine patent applications

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) has today launched the nation’s first ‘Peer to Patent’ pilot website.

The site will provide an online hub for members of the public to search and examine pending patent applications, allowing users to upload ‘prior art’ and discuss the merits of the application.

The aim of the site is to provide an additional ‘crowd-sourcing’ resource for patent examiners, allowing them to tap into the skills, knowledge and experience of the scientific and technical communities relevant to the patent application.

The site incorporates many of the features of other social-networking sites, such as allowing users to ‘thumb up’ or ‘thumb down’ contributions.

Douglas Rankin, a patent attorney at Marks & Clerk, said: ‘This is a welcome development that should go some way to improving the general quality of patents granted by the IPO. There are clear advantages to applying the principles of social media to the patent application system — patent examiners will greatly benefit from access to additional expert views and knowledge they would not otherwise have when assessing an application.’

With the Peer to Patent system, patent holders will also benefit in the knowledge that their patents have been through a more rigorous vetting system and are thus stronger and less likely to be challenged in the future.

The current pilot site is limited to the area of patents concerning electronic data and will run until 31 December 2011. The UK pilot follows similar successful trials in the US and Australia.

The site can be accessed at: http://peertopatent.org.uk/