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Patent Examining with Wikis

CNN Money has posted an article by Fortune senior writer Nicholas Varchaver who reports the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is embarking on a pilot software patent examination program. The program will allow those complaining about overly broad software patents to become part of the solution. The problem stems from patent examiners having too little time to review patent applications and not having a sufficient wealth of information regarding the state of the technology already in other patents or in the public domain.

The goal of the pilot program is to use a wiki to allow other inventors to sift through the volumous amount of available information and provide only the most pertinent information to the patent examiner. The pilot program uses a “wiki”format. According to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia (and a wiki itself), a wiki is “a type of website that allows users to easily add, remove, or otherwise edit and change some available content.”

The pilot program will allow third parties to examine the proposed patent application. The third parties may then research pubicly available information to propose the most closely-related material and submit it to the wiki. Others may them comment upon and rate the quality of the submission. The examiner will then review the merits of the patent application against the highest rated submissions.

The hope is that this program will eliminate the problem the USPTO has had in the past issuing broad patents covering known technology.

Brett Trout

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