Friday, December 14, 2007

Obama Promises More Transparency for Patent System

According to a story last month in the World Information Review, presidential candidate Barack Obama would make patent reform a top priority of his administration. One of his ideas is to open up the patent process to citizen input, which I assume would entail establishing a formal patent review program similar to the Community Patent Review Project being piloted by the New York Law School. I'm skeptical that such a system can have a meaningful impact on patent quality. To date, the Peer-to-Patent Project has registered 1,650 reviewers, an impressive number, but they have submitted only 94 pieces of prior art relating to 17 pending applications. Identifying prior art requires deep expertise and excellent analytical skills. Are there really that many qualified people willing to volunteer their time doing such complex work? Or would this just be an open invitation to cranks with time on their hands?