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July 14, 2005



As fascinating as the use of the social approach to the patent approval process is, it is way premature and wet behind the ears.

Many companies should be run with social tools of the kind this post suggests. Yet, that is clearly not the case.

Disaster management is a prime target for a social/interactionist approach. And yet again, the current approach is strictly preplanned, hierarchical and static.

Social tools need to mature substantially before trusting them with as serious an intellectual undertaking as the patents approval process is.

robert jordan

we might as well eat our children, your proposal is stupid. in fact, i hope you're kidding. you don't have a clear understanding how the patent office works, and i think it's silly you wrote a ignorant article rather than first reading up on the subject. if you talked to even one person in the patent office, you'd be writing a different article.

rob smith

While I'm not sure this could be gotten off the ground for patents, I do believe it would work for the scientific peer review process. If someone developed an appropriate client and service architecture, it could eliminate the stranglehold that publishers have on peer review. Academics would have a strong tendancy to participate. If you are interested in talking about this, contact me.



Here is a better proposal (crossposted from MiFi):

Patents do not exist to protect creativity, ideas, pure research, or even applied research. Patents only exist to (1) encourage people to "bring products to market" by (2) protecting the capital involved involved in building a factories, gaining FDA approval, etc. We can draw a few conclusions from this:

(1) Patents should only apply to a product which can be put on the market. So your patent should actually say how your going to make it.

(2) Patents should ideally only apply to products can not be profitable without them. So your patent should say how much its going to cost to make it, and where your going to get that money if you get the patent.

Now the patent approval process is trivial: Your patent application is published, and you wait say one year. In this year, anyone is free to contest the patent OR bring the product to market before you. If your beaten to the punch, no one ever gets the patent. If no one makes it without the patent, then you've proved it needs a patent, and you get your patent.

BTW, nothing like FDA approval existed 200 years ago, so it requires a more subtle compromise, but the above should work when safety testing is not the major issue.

If you want to talk about privatizing the funding of applied/pure research, I'm willing to think about it, but I'm doubtful. Even drug companies tend to use public funds.


I dont know why they make it so hard to get a patent now a days.I still remember the patent they gave for some guy who patented online stock trading.


I believe that I have a very interesting contribution to this post. Please take a moment to review my proposal at www.ideologi.com. There you'll find an open source proposal for the creation a universal exchange of ideas -- a peer production portal that mixes competition and collaboration to both value and generate intellectual property (patents, copyrights, etc.).

Thank you for your consideration.

Bill Hooker

And today, almost exactly a year later, I read (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2006_08_20_fosblogarchive.html#115626952432764634) that this idea has gone from blog post to official trial. Kudos.

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A free-access site launched last September (www.wikipatents.com) has made it possible for the general public to help strengthen the US patent system. It allows users (now over 30,000 strong) to review issued patents and pending patent applications and to make valuable comments concerning the validity and scope of the inventor's claims. Users can also add prior art references that the patent examiners at the USPTO may have overlooked. The goal is to clarify who owns what in the world of intellectual property, which will hopefully prevent the hoard of patent infringement lawsuits we are now seeing while still allowing inventors to advance science and technology for the good of mankind. The site can be accessed at www.wikipatents.com.

Tim McCormack

Congratulations on this idea having reached its third pilot run. I hope you are proud. :-)


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