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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