The UK government has launched a new website that provides a forum for patent review by science and technology experts. Called the Peer to Patent website, it is the brainchild of the minister for intellectual property, Baroness Wilcox.
The new site will run as a six month pilot, and will showcase up to 200 patent applications in the computing field. Registered users will be allowed to leave comments on the applications, and these will eventually be sent to examiners in the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and be considered a part of the patent review process. The website went live on 1 June 2011, and it models itself on other successful Peer to Patent websites from the United States and Australia.
Baroness Wilcox believes that the applications granted through the website review process would potentially be stronger, and thus the tool would give businesses better protection to grow innovative ideas. It will also give the IPO access to a wider body of knowledge in determining whether a patent should be granted.
The new patent application tool will enable the technology community to view and comment on patent applications on inventions ranging from computer mice to complex processor operations. The pilot will give experts the opportunity to comment on patent applications and share their expertise before the patents are granted, which means that inventions already known in the wider community will be filtered out more readily as well.
The first group of applications has already been uploaded to the Peer to Patent website. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys said that they welcome the pilot as a way of exploring how third-party opinions can improve the quality of products. The pilot website takes advantage of the growing popularity of review websites and social networking on the internet worldwide. It is hoped that that users, observers and applicants will all engage each other positively and constructively to help build a stronger UK patent system.