Wired News has a story today on the Peer to Patent proposal.
“Peer to Patent” (PtoP): A Modest Proposal
Beth Simone Noveck
The patent system is broken. As patent and antitrust scholar Rudolph Peritz has demonstrated, the United States Patent Office, which was intended to foster innovation and the promotion of progress in the useful arts, instead, creates uncertainty and monopoly. Underpaid and overwhelmed examiners routinely approve petitions without review. They struggle under the burden of 350,000 patent applications per year. Though supposedly expert, patent examiners are not versed in all the scientific disciplines. Until recently, even though more and more software applications were coming in, the patent office didn’t recognize training in computer science as a legitimate qualification. The same is true now for nanotech and other state of the art sciences. Congress requires the patent office to be self-funding, creating a further incentive to approve applications and pass them through the system. As a result, multiple patents have been given for the same invention or patents awarded for inventions discovered previously. The judicial review process that is intended to check regulatory dysfunction is not necessarily helping. The Federal Circuit, the specialty patent appeals court, rules overwhelmingly in favor of patent holders and awards large financial judgments for patent enforcement, spawning a new industry of “patent trolls,” patenting for litigation not innovation.