In a document released May 17, 2010, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) released its latest proposal for a Peer To Patent-type system for allowing third parties to contribute prior art and commentary at the international phase of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications. This document elicits comment from members of the PCT Working Group on such a system. The concept is to have an informal, web-based approach that will: improve [National] Office access to prior art; allow applicants to make better decisions on whether to pursue national phase applications; and inform others of the potential strength of pending new applications. Much as with Peer To Patent, the WIPO system would gather prior art contributions and commentary in a centralized database. It would then make the results available to all interested National Offices to use as each Office deems appropriate under relevant national law and by international authorities. Just as Peer To Patent is testing an international approach with its pilots in Australia and Japan, the WIPO approach contemplates "search once, share often."
In a subsequent paper released May 17, 2010, WIPO is also considering incorporating a feedback mechanism in this third party contribution process that would allow patent examiners to participate in the process as well.
In a third document, this one prepared by the European Patent Office (EPO) and released June 7, 2010, EPO suggests allowing applicants, in their discretion, to participate in any on-line discussions of suggested prior art.
The fact that WIPO is considering such an approach gives further credence to the concept embodied in Peer To Patent that collaboration among patent offices, applicants, and third parties to find all relevant prior art prior to examination can have a positive impact on the increasingly important currency of patents in our innovation driven society.