UK considering peer review for patent systemDecember 15, 2006

After a review of Great Britain’s intellectual property laws, the UK patent office is considering implementing a peer review procedure as part of its patent examining process. This was one of the recommendations of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, published on December 6. The idea is based in part on the Peer to Patent Project, described in a recent article by NYU law professor Beth Noveck in the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology. The idea could potentially use a concept similar to the popular community encyclopedia website Wikipedia, with experts in various fields able to view and comment on pending patent applications in their area of expertise, as well as collect and compile the most relevant prior art. The idea is to improve patent quality by increasing the quality of both the examination and the prior art available to the examiner. It is important to note that this is still in the proposal stage, a committee will not be appointed to study the idea’s feasibility until after the new year. It is, however, an indication of potential changes not only in UK patent law, but also potentially US patent law.

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