Calling for a ‘Vox Populi’ on the review of Patent applications, a pilot project , the ‘Peer to Patent Project’ has been launched by Beth Noveck of the New York Law School Institute of Information Law and Policy.
Structured on the lines of a deliberative internet based model that encourages community participation in the review of patent applications, it paves the way for a paradigm shift from the traditional process of patent application review and grant.
Excerpts from the article in the Economist, ‘A Patent Improvement’
The scheme, known as “Peer to Patent”:Community Patent Review, was created by Beth Simone Noveck, a professor at
On registration (that’s free of cost) the reviewer can post comments via the net on the patent app, prior art submission, rate claims; submit prior art samples, rate peer reviews and so on.
The number of applications has soared in recent years, but patent offices have been unable to keep up—resulting in huge backlogs and lengthy delays. Standards have slipped and in
‘The Community Patent Project stems from a core belief in Democratic values’ says Noveck. This project aims to encourage better governance of the patent system through collaborative action between the stakeholders and active community engagement.At a time when the cleavage between Science and Policy, gets wider, garnering public opinion through an arrangement such as this could well act a conduit to bridge the gap.
Companies such as GE , Motorola, Intel, Microsoft, HP have posted their patent claims on the project website inviting peers reviews and public opinion in what could also be viewed as an extension of the corporate-social contract and discharge of a corporate social responsibility that companies are increasingly looking to further.
Tuning in to the Indian context…… a flip back to Shmnads post on Spicyip post, ‘Big Patents Arrive in India’ Database,
‘We also need to advocate for greater transparency in patent office decision making, which would inter-alia, involve making patent decisions available to the public. During the 80’s and early 90’s, some of these decisions were made public and proved tremendously useful for a paper I did whilst assessing the role that “policy” played in patent office decisions. Unfortunately, with the retiring of then Controller General, Mr Shanti Kumar, this practice was discontinued. It would be great if this were resumed. After all, more critical public review of these decisions can only lead to a more robust patent system.’
Prof Bhaven and his team are also discussing the feasibility and desirability of implementing a “peer review” system for Indian patent applications (modeled on the Community Patent Initiative) with stakeholders, policymakers, academics, and potential funders.’
For a country, that’s based its mantra march on‘We the people’ (sans the hamay banana hai beat- the popular rhetoric of the politico) a project modeled on similar lines that seeks to engage the public in the patent review process and possibly in further policy formulation , could be well worth a try. A relevant reminisce, would be that of the durbar system practiced by the Mughals that worked effectively in mobilizing public participation and seeking opinion on matters of public importance. Bearing constructs of a patent durbar albeit a virtual one, the Community Patent Project may be good experiment in attempting to involve the public asking for a voice vote of sorts on IP issues of national interest as well as on innovations that could impact the public at large .(look up our recent blog ‘Public Participation in IP Policy Making’ on this for more)