Peer-to-Patent: IPKat seminar

The IPKat has long expressed his enthusiasm for the Peer-to-Patent experiment, which has been trialled in the United States and Australia and will soon, he learns, will be run in the United Kingdom too. In short, Peer-to-Patent provides a means of involving suitably equipped members of the public in the patent grant process (for further details, see links below).

Something to peer at
patents through ...
To enable interested people to gain an understanding of how Peer-to-Patent works, and how the trial will run in the United Kingdom, he is running a special IPKat seminar on Monday 6 June, from 2.30pm to 5pm (registration from 2pm) on Peer-to-Patent.  The programme is not yet finalised (the Kat will publish the final version as soon as he can), but he can already confirm that there will be presentations by Nigel Hanley (IPO) on how Peer-to-Patent will work, Matt Fisher (UCL) on how the US and Australian versions of the experiment have fared, and Barbara Cookson, who has had some personal experience of participating in the US version. CIPA President Alasdair Poore (Mills & Reeve) will add his perspectives too.  Apart from Matt the Kat, the IPKat team will be represented by Jeremy, who will be in the chair.

The Central London venue, kindly donated by Olswang LLP, is its lovely top-floor meeting room at 90 High Holborn. The event is free, so all you have to do is email the IPKat here with the subject line 'Peerpat' and tell him you intend to come.  First come, first served!

Peer to Patent in the US here
Peer to Patent in Australia here
Peer-to-Patent: IPKat seminar Peer-to-Patent: IPKat seminar Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, April 18, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. I should be happy to be put straight, but the 30 year history of Art 115 EPC (observations on patentability filed at the EPO by members of the public) gives me no reason to expect any success from Peer to Patent initiatives, and every reason to expect it to go moribund. Can anybody tell me, why exactly should anybody with a serious financial reason to reduce the potential danger from a pending patent application hand over to their assailant on a plate what are actually their best defensive weapons?

  2. No, I guess nobody can.

    "Peer to patents" rests on two pillars:

    - the will of some politicians and heads of patents offices to convince people that they "are doing something about the backlog" without investing much money;

    - the myth that the world is full of people who, at the same time, are experts in a technical field and are willing to spend their time looking for prior art better than the one cited by the patent office(s), for free.

    I would not be surprised if, underneath, there was also the good old Anglo-Saxon obsession for trying to diminish, by any possible means, the role of public institutions (patent offices in the present case).

  3. Oh, well said, that contributer. Your interesting "Anglo-Saxon" point had escaped me, but (warning: English double negative coming up) I'm not saying you don't have a point there.

  4. It's a Big Society initiative. The unemployed police can teach our children for free, the unemployed teachers can examine our patent applications, and the unemployed patent examiners can control the binge-drinking youngsters.

  5. Indeed, the Big Society, like similar Third Way ideas of the previous British government, is basically about having the public do for free the work of civil servants and public employees. Unfortunately, all the purported savings are usually more than offset by the huge fees charged by management consultants for coming up with such schemes. And when the idea is ultimately abandoned, because it turns out that nobody is actually interested in working for free, the public sector, having lost all its know-how, is forced to outsource those jobs to the private sector, at higher cost, and over those very same management consultants...

  6. Anglo-Saxon nations apparently seek to undercut their public patent authorities, whereas Latin (FR, IT...) countries don't have much of these to begin with... Maybe the real plan is for US and GB to converge to continental practices, and implement de facto some sort of registration system? (To wit, USPTO budget cuts).

    I'm quite curious about what the guests have to say, even though I belong to the skeptics. Being a bit too far away from the venue to hop in, I'm very much afraid I will not be able to attend. Are there any plans to make the contents of the event online (e.g.: live broadcast, dailymotion, slides) ?

    As to the effectiveness of Art. 115 EPC, one could have a look at the observations filed by Research in Motion against pending applications by Visto (mostly divisionals). This case is perhaps exceptional, RIM is fighting with all it's got, and comments the procedure at every step of.

  7. Judging from the info available from clicking the links, the US initiative seems to have been at least partly prompted by the absence of any provision under US patent law for either pre-grant third party observations or post-grant oppositions, both of which have long been possible in Europe. Pre-grant opposition was of course not possible under the old US law, where no details of a pending application were published and the first publication was of the granted patent: I understand that US-based applicants still retain this option. Anecdotal evidence is that examiner turnover is high, so that, unlike Europe, examiners do not remain in post long enough to gain thorough technical expertise in highly complex technologies.

    Conversely, the AU initiative was prompted by the absence of searchable patent literature relating to business methods and computer-related inventions, hitherto unpatentable under AU law.


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