Patent office to seek wisdom of crowds

Finally, a common sense idea that may finally have an impact on the rampant abuse of patents we’ve seen in the last two decades:
Open Call From the Patent Office

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.
“For the first time in history, it allows the patent-office examiners to open up their cubicles and get access to a whole world of technical experts,” said David J. Kappos, vice president and assistant general counsel at IBM.
It’s quite a switch. For generations, the agency responsible for awarding patents, one of the cornerstones of innovation, has kept its distance from the very technological advances it has made possible. The project, scheduled to begin in the spring, evolved out of a meeting between IBM, the top recipient of U.S. patents for 14 years in a row, and New York Law School Professor Beth Noveck. Noveck called the initiative “revolutionary” and said it will bring about “the first major change to our patent examination system since the 19th century.”

Well keep our eye on this. Quite frankly I think that a system that hasn’t had a major change since the 19th century is going to find things a might bit interesting here in the 21st and I predict their foray into the wild, wild west internet will result in some nasty bumps.
Here’s hoping they respond with grace.

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