<sarcasm> Patent Office Steals from Digg! </sarcasm>
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is launching a pilot program that will post patent applications online and ask readers to not only comment on them, but invite the community to rate comments so that the ones with best ratings are moved to the top of the pile “for serious consideration by the agency’s examiners.”
While this is a big change from their archaic system, the adoption of the community-based initiative makes perfect for an agency that is responsible fro rewarding and protecting technological innovations.
“For the first time in history, it allows the patent-office examiners to open up their cubicles and get access to a whole world of technical experts,” said David J. Kappos, vice president and assistant general counsel at IBM.
Of course when you open your system to everyone, some will try to take advantage of it or try to circumvent it, just like people game every other social web application to gain prominence. This potential for ‘gaming’ raises several important questions.
- Who should or will be allowed to vote and on what basis?
- How much weight will these ‘promoted’ comments have and how will they be factored in when the applications are being evaluated?
So far the system is described as follows,
Ultimately, those registered to participate in this online forum will vote on all the nominated information, and the top 10 items will be passed on to the examiner, who will serve as the final arbiter on whether to award a patent.
The Washington Post has more.