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Patent Help

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) may need the help of nerds everywhere. Facing an increasingly intimidating backlog, the PTO is considering an online project that would seek the input of the public on pending patent applications.

The pilot, tentatively scheduled to begin in December, would start by alerting volunteers about new patent applications and inviting them to submit ‘prior art,’ or the scientific papers and previous patents that could render claims invalid. The community would then rank each other’s suggestions and the examiner would be left with a list of about ten items of prior art with which to start his investigation.

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On example by Brandon

I think this is a great idea. Projects such as Wikipedia are proof that people are willing to volunteer time to research things like this – although the PTO may need to work in some kind of "greater good" concept to motivate people. Otherwise, it may take revenge or hate for "the system" to get them into it. This guy, for example, decided to get back at Amazon.com for a slow book delivery by challenging their patent of the "1-Click" online purchase.

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