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October 2, 2007

Amateur Hour Open Season

Chris Wong, project manager of the Peer to Patent pilot program, where select voluntary patent applications are rousted by amateur-found prior art, wants the law changed to allow third-party prior art submission for all patent applications.

The Channel Register, a UK web publication reports:

The opt-in pilot has raised fears that controversial patents which could most benefit from the peer review process will never be submitted through it... Technology patents are particularly controversial.

Oops. All utility patents are "technology" patents.

John Doll, patent commissioner, prudently wants the pilot to run its course before making a determination of the program's utility.

That decision really hasn't been made. The office does support expanding the ability of third parties without approval of applicants to submit prior art. This is a pilot. At the end of a pilot we're going to examine if this did improve the process, we're going to examine if this did improve the quality of the patents that we issue.

The pilot is presently slated to last a year, and is limited to 250 patent applications.

The pilot uses a voting system to rank found prior art to an application; the top ten are submitted to the examiner, who may use or ignore the recommended references.

Current law prohibits external prior art submission for pending applications. The PTO carved an exemption, allowing pilot program participants to waive their statutory rights to block third-party prior art submission.

Many companies sponsoring the Peer to Patent program, such as Microsoft and IBM, have paid lip service by not participating in submitting what could be their most "controversial" patent applications.

Posted by Patent Hawk at October 2, 2007 11:40 PM | Prosecution


You had me at MS and IBM. Who is Chris Wong? PTO manager, right? He wants to change the law eh? Ha ha.

Posted by: Mr T at October 3, 2007 5:52 AM

Regarding the USPTO's changed interpretation of and possible regulatory error in new Rule 114, NIPRA has posted a preliminary (non-linked) web page:


Any comments/corrections would be very much appreciated.

Posted by: anonymous at October 4, 2007 7:43 AM