"The idea behind Peer To Patent was to increase the number of observations from the general public, and the technology and research communities in particular, on patent applications using a Wiki style website. Although the pilot was limited to 172 applications in the computing field, the rate of observations increased from way below 1% to around 6%. Of these, over half the observations contained information that was useful to the examiner undertaking the examination of the application.The Report's conclusions are encouragingly upbeat:
Other headline points show that there is interest in the idea of public participation in the patent process. The pilot ran between June 2011 and March 2012 and received over 6,500 visits from 91 countries.
As a result of the Pilot it is our intention to introduce an observations button to our Ipsum [Online Patent Information and Document Inspection] service to make it easier for members of the public to make comments. We will also be looking at making it easier for the public to comment on those applications that are published every Wednesday [Merpel wonders why the IPO is publishing applications every Wednesday. Why not just publish them once and have done with it, like everyone else?]."
"In summary, the UK pilot, operating in the context of the UK system, and with an approach geared to all patent applications, not just those volunteered for the system, has demonstrated, in line with the experiences in the US and Australia, that Peer To Patent can make an effective contribution to uncovering relevant prior art for examiners to use when determining whether to grant a patent application. The specific conclusions which can be drawn from the pilot are:In "Next Steps", the report again alludes to Ipsum, which
• Peer To Patent can make an incremental, but still significant, improvement to the ability of Patent Offices to obtain prior art relevant to patent applications.
• There is considerable interest among the Internet community in this concept [the IPKat hopes that the notion of an "Internet community" will soon subside since, increasingly, that community is the world at large, regardless of the subject matter or field of application of the technology for which a patent may be sought].
• To make the Peer To Patent system work effectively, effort will need to be put in to effectively “seed” communities who will be willing to contribute to the programme over an extended period of time [and interested parties, including commercial competitors, will increasingly feel the need to contribute whether they perceive themselves as part of a community of dedicated prior-art-digger-uppers or not].
• To more effectively use the Internet community, there needs to be clear communication of which applications would particularly benefit from assistance, for example by clearer communication of the results of examiner’s searches [the Kat agrees that better communication is needed, but he's not sure whether this should be examiner-driven. A patent applicant might feel a little picked-upon if his application is flagged for P2P assistance while that of another applicant in the same technical field is not].
• The use of social networking technologies such as Twitter and blogs can be a highly effective method for reaching out to certain communities, specifically in the computing sphere. They enable the effective leveraging of existing communication networks spanning the Internet".
"... provides an alternative online platform to the Peer To Patent website for the online community to obtain information on patent applications as they are being examined. Augmenting this existing system with aspects of the Peer To Patent approach would seem the most straightforward way of taking forward the Peer To Patent work. The most feasible method would be to incrementally enhance the Ipsum service in a number of ways:
• The first step would be to add a direct link to the IPO’s online third party observations submission system from each Ipsum page, so that anyone examining the file would be able to immediately provide comments to the examiner if they wished.
The IPKat would be delighted to hear from Peer to Patent aficionados, Ipsum users, patent applicants and their professional representatives as to what they think of this very practical next step.• This could be further augmented by providing a discussion forum, which could include details of submissions already made.In addition to providing the technological infrastructure, the experience of the pilot has highlighted the need for effective engagement with the Internet community if the effectiveness of a Peer To Patent approach is to be maximised. The IPO should be able to capitalise on the profile already gained by the Peer To Patent brand [gosh, says Merpel, who would have thought that a report on P2P would contain a proposal for brand exploitation!], and seek to build links both through an online presence (blogs, social media) and through working with institutions such as the Technology Strategy Board and university computer science departments".
• To assist community building, applications could be made accessible in a number of ways, such as by how recently applications have been published, classification, bibliographic data such as numbers of citations found by the examiner relevant to novelty or inventiveness, or user-defined “tags”. This would enable reviewers to focus on applications of particular interest to them.