Patent System going Open Process

June 7, 2007

One recent article (Administration Seeks Overhaul of Patent System) on the patent system upcoming reform had me smile with relief. At last, people with common sense tackling the USPTO problem.

The idea that:

Reform legislation […] should require the applicants to conduct a thorough search of related patents and technical journals, and then explain why the patent being sought represents a significant innovation beyond previous ideas in the field

had me wondering if anyone read my own blog entry on the subject where I was suggesting that exact same thing. A quick look at my blog stats made clear that this was unlikely and that this idea germinated independently in mine and their minds. Not surprising: it’s just common and practical sense after all.

One thing I haven’t thought about is the following:

The patent office is experimenting with the concept of opening the examination process to outsiders, inviting public peer reviews. On June 15, Mr. Dudas said, the patent office will begin a pilot project for open reviews of software patents. The patents in the pilot program will be posted on a Web site, and members of the public with software expertise will be allowed to send the patent office technical references relevant to the patent claims.

As we say on Chandler’s mailing list: “+1 to that!” and shame on me for not thinking about it since this idea of “Open Process” is something we at OSAF are trying to promote and put in practice.

Anyway, it’s a really good idea and a welcome development in the current software patent mess. I hope the experiment will bear fruits and that no special interest or company with deep pockets will try to shoot that one down.