Thomson Reuters has a new patent – U.S. Patent No. 8,412,564 entitled System and method for identifying excellence within a profession. The patent was originally filed by the folks at Key Professional Media who later sold their "Super Lawyers" business to Thomson. The basic idea behind the patent is that – using a computer – you do a peer survey to identify a pool of candidates, then evaluate individuals within that pool based upon various objective factors (and store the information in a "data storage device"); next conduct another peer-evaluation of the select group; and finally ranking the professionals.
Claim 1 of the patent (prosecuted by) reads like a bear.
1. A method on a processing device for identifying excellent performance of candidates within a profession group, the processing device comprising a processor, a user interface device, and a data storage device, the method comprising:
creating a candidate pool by selecting individuals from a profession group, including:
receiving and processing a survey of peer professionals working within the profession group, wherein the peer professionals nominate other individuals within the profession group, wherein a minimum set of qualifications exist for each of the peer professionals to provide nominations;
performing independent research to identify individuals, the independent research comprising data mining to identify the individuals who satisfy predefined criteria for outstanding performance within the profession group, wherein the data mining includes querying electronic data sources containing relevant biographical information for the individuals within the profession group; and
selecting candidates for the candidate pool based on a combination of the results produced by the survey of peer professionals and the independent research, wherein the combination is performed using a computer operation which removes duplicate candidates;
wherein biographical information about individuals identified via the survey and the independent research is compiled for each individual within the candidate pool and stored in the data storage device;
evaluating the candidates individuals within the candidate pool, including:
performing, by the processor, independent research to evaluate performance of the candidates, the independent research comprising retrieval of performance information for the candidates relevant to objective criteria specific to the profession group, wherein the retrieval of performance information is performed independent of input from the individuals in the profession group and the peer professionals, and wherein the performance information is compiled for each candidate in the candidate pool and added to the information compiled for each candidate stored within the data storage device;
for each candidate within the candidate pool, storing in the data storage device a score for each objective criterion based on the performance information of each candidate stored in the data storage device;
for each candidate within the candidate pool, compiling with the processor a point total from the scores of each objective criterion; and
identifying candidates with point totals in a first predetermined top percentage of candidates in the candidate pool;
conducting peer evaluations of only the candidates with point totals in the first predetermined top percentage of candidates in the candidate pool, including:
selecting peer evaluators from among the candidates having point totals in the first predetermined top percentage of candidates in the candidate pool;
obtaining, from the user interface device, peer evaluation scores from the selected peer evaluators; and
producing, with the processor, an averaged peer evaluation score for each candidate in the first predetermined top percentage; and
identifying, with the processor, candidates in a second predetermined top percentage of candidates in the candidate pool based on a function of the point totals compiled from the scores of each objective criterion and the peer evaluation scores obtained from the selected peer evaluators.
The patent includes several technology-focused limitations such as a processor, a user interface device, and a data storage device. Without those limitations, the method could be performed in a room of professionals with nothing other than pencil and paper. So the question is whether this patent is subject matter eligible. Does it matter that the originally filed claim was functionally the same but did not include the tech-specific limitations? Some of these questions will be answered by CLS Bank.
Via Bob Ambrogi