Guest post by Nigel Hanley, Senior Examiner at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), working on the UK Peer To Patent pilot.
I would like to thank Patently-O for giving me the opportunity to post about the UK Peer To Patent pilot, which we launched this morning at www.peertopatent.org.uk.
To many readers, the concept of Peer To Patent needs no explaining and it has been discussed in previous articles on this site. The USPTO has already run one pilot and is well into a second that began in October 2010. IP Australia has run a successful pilot and there have been more limited exercises in Japan and South Korea. Some you may also be aware that Professor Beth Noveck, who was the driving force behind the Peer to Patent concept, has recently been asked to become an advisor to the UK Government.
Our pilot will run for the next six months and over that time we will load about 200 UK patent applications onto the website. We started with 20 this morning and these will be followed by about 10 more every week over the next few months. In common with the US and IP Australia pilots, the applications all come from the field of computing. We are also working with the New York Law School who were the same team that established the US pilot.
Each application will remain open for comment for three months after which time a report will be prepared by the system and sent to the IPO. An examiner will then consider the report when dealing with the application. However, the decisions on whether to grant a patent or not will always remain with the examiner.
There are several differences to the USPTO pilot website that I would like to mention.
Firstly, in the UK we have a separate search and examination procedure. This means that all patent applications are published with a search report. These have been made available on the website so reviewers can see and comment on the prior art that the examiner has already managed to identify.
Secondly, a major difference between the US and UK law is that the UK allows "third party observations" on patent applications. This has not always been as widely used as it could. What Peer To Patent gives the IPO is a method by which we can make information available to the scientific and technology communities and provide them with a way to contribute to the examination process using up to date technology.
We have not asked any specific universities or groups of people to act as reviewers. Some may ask why, but we want to see if there is genuinely a community of people in the UK and beyond, who are prepared to give their time and use their undoubted skill and knowledge to get involved in the patent process.
The IPO has set up an information page at www.ipo.gov.uk/peertopatent with some more details about the project. We also have a pilot blog at www.ipo.gov.uk/peertopatentblog - over the next few months I will post on the blog about how the project is going and hopefully give people and insight into how a UK examiner works. You can also follow the pilot on #peertopatent_uk on twitter.