05 March 2007

Opening up the Patent Process

Here's a mildly hopeful development:

The government is about to start opening up the process of reviewing patents to the modern font of wisdom: the Internet.

The Patent and Trademark Office is starting a pilot project that will not only post patent applications on the Web and invite comments but also use a community rating system designed to push the most respected comments to the top of the file, for serious consideration by the agency's examiners. A first for the federal government, the system resembles the one used by Wikipedia, the popular user-created online encyclopedia.

Whether it improves the quality of patents awarded remains to be seen, but at least they're trying. It also shows how the idea of openness is spreading into even the bastions of the knowledge establishment.

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