Lend a Hand to Patent Review

June 16, 2011 By Aminda

Patent review has been making headlines recently, and there is considerable demand for participants to assist with the process. The first notable occurrence was the patent infringement claims filed against 7 mobile phone application developers.

According to an article from digital media industry news site, Paid Content, “patent threats against smartphone app developers have emerged as a serious threat to the burgeoning ecosystem, because many are small businesses which do not have the finances or time to contest a patent claim, and could be put out of business by large demands for licensing fees from patent holders.”

In response to the claim, a search for prior art has been launched to invalidate it. Coordinated by U.S.-based Article One Partners, which uses a crowdsourcing model to create a community effort, a successful search can generate a $5,000 reward.

If app developers are successful in using their combined efforts to invalidate this claim, it could send a strong message to potential patent trolls looking to capitalize on the fragmented developer community.

The UK Intellectual Property Office is trying out a similar model of engaging teams of participants online to evaluate patent applications. Peer to Patent, which has been operating in the U.S. since 2007, invites volunteers to identify prior art in patent applications. Both programs are run in partnership with New York Law School, from which a large number of U.S. participants come from. According to a Wired Magazine article, the UK pilot differs in that it makes the IPO’s search report available — the written report that lists the documents that the patent examiner thinks is relevant when initially reviewed.

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