Open Patent Office

This is a promising application of Wiki technology for a knowledgeable group of real people:

The government is about to start opening up the process of reviewing patents to the modern font of wisdom: the Internet.

The Patent and Trademark Office is starting a pilot project that will not only post patent applications on the Web and invite comments but also use a community rating system designed to push the most respected comments to the top of the file, for serious consideration by the agency’s examiners. A first for the federal government, the system resembles the one used by Wikipedia, the popular user-created online encyclopedia.

“For the first time in history, it allows the patent-office examiners to open up their cubicles and get access to a whole world of technical experts,” said David J. Kappos, vice president and assistant general counsel at IBM.

This will be good if and only if the citizen reviewers are expert and accountable, and under those conditions I’m enthusiastically for it, especially since professional reviewers have the last word.

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