If you have landed at this page thinking you were going to the Peer To Patent working page (formerly www.peertopatent.org), it is because the project has completed its mission. The goal of Peer To Patent has been to demonstrate that citizen-expert could make a meaningful contribution to identifying useful prior art relevant to the examination of pending patent applications. After running two pilots in the U.S. (from 2007-2009 and 2010-2011), there can be little doubt as to the value of opening the prior art search process to volunteers. In fact, the project was so successful that the American Invents Act (AIA), signed into law in September 2011, makes provision for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to implement a Peer To Patent-type system. And that is just what is happening.
The USPTO is presently working on Phase I of its news third-party submissions system, a web-based portal where anyone will be able to submit prior art relevant to any pending, published patent application. You will no longer have to file prior art references in hard copy. You will no longer be prevented from providing an explanation of the relevance of the prior art (in fact, you will be expected to prior such explanation). You will no longer have to pay a fee to submit the prior art, at least for the first three references filed electronically on any one patent application (if you wish to file more than three references on an application, you will need to file the references beyond three through the traditional manual submission system and you will have to pay a fee for those references). The time for submitting prior art references will be longer than under Peer To Patent (although third-parties should make their submissions as early as possible following publication to assure the examiner has them before a first office action issues). Best of all, you will no longer be limited in the areas of technology for which prior art may be submitted. Everything is fair game! You can read more of the proposed rules around third party submissions here.
Phase I of the USPTO third-party submissions system is expected to be implemented no later than the anniversary of the signing of the AIA, i.e., September, 2012. In the meantime a task force at the USPTO is considering how the USPTO may provide the collaborative aspects of Peer To Patent - the work spaces, a discussion area, tagging, etc. In addition, at least one private entity is rumored to be working on the same sort of collaborative workspace, and we hope to see something substantive on that before the end of the summer of 2012.
Over the next month our New York Law School team will be publishing a full, final report of the first pilot (earlier anniversary reports were published before all of the project data was complete). We will also be publishing an interim report from the second pilot. So stay tuned.
For those who are interested in the data accumulated by Peer To Patent on the patent applications that went through peer review in either the first or second pilot, that data has been archived and is available for academic study. If you have an interest in accessing that data, please contact Naomi Allen, Institute Manager, Institute of Information Law and Policy, New York Law School at 212-431-2368 or naomi.allen at nyls.edu.
For those academic institutions or national patent offices wishing to avail themselves of the software used to power Peer To Patent, that software is also available. Again, you should contact Ms. Allen.
Finally, we want to thank all of those who have supported the Peer To Patent project since its inception in 2005. The Omidyar Network and MacArthur Foundation provided critical funding throughout the project. Corporate sponsors provided both funding, expertise, and direction to the project. Those corporate sponsors include IBM, GE, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, CA, Red Hat, Open Invention Network, Article One Partners, and Intellectual Ventures. Students were the backbone of this project, and we would like to recognize the students at New York Law School, Duke University School of Law, University of California School of Law, Brooklyn Law School, Notre Dame Law School, and Florida International University School of Law for all of their hard work. We would especially like to recognize Chris Wong, Tom Lemmo, Christina Segro and Andrea Casillas, our student project managers who provided leadership throughout the project. Last, but by no means least, we thank Beth Noveck of New York Law School for her innovative idea and Manny Schecter of IBM for his enthusiasm, guidance, and support over the past seven years.