Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Peer-to-Patent Project

QUT have joined the New York Law School's Peer-to-Patent project to addresses the examination and quality of business methods and computer software patents. They are looking for volunteers to review patents.

The first time I got this I asked "why should I help someone make money out dubious patents?". Ben McEniery, Project Manager at Queensland University of Technology explained that the project is about stopping dubious patents:
Peer-to-Patent Australia (www.peertopatent.org.au) is a project that aims to re-establish the rightful balance between the interests of the public and and the rights of patentees. The project seeks to protect the public's right to access new ideas by ensuring that patents that lack novelty or the requisite degree of inventiveness are not granted.

The project addresses the examination and quality of business methods and computer software patents.

We are looking to build a community of volunteers to review participating patent applications and bring relevant prior art to the attention of IP Australia’s patent examiners.

The project is based on the Peer-to-Patent project run by the New York Law School (NYLS) and is the result of the collaborative efforts between QUT and NYLS. The project will initially run as a six-month pilot that will focus on the rapidly advancing technology areas of business methods and computer software. Up to 40 business method, computer software and related patent applications that have been filed in Australia and which are open for public inspection will each be posted on the Peer-to-Patent Australia website for a 90-day period. During that time, members of the community can review those applications, submit prior art references and comment on the relevance of any prior art that has been put forward.

At the end of the review period, Peer-to-Patent Australia will forward the top 10 prior art submissions for each application, as selected by the community of reviewers, to IP Australia for consideration in the examination process. The review process in no way abrogates the responsibility of the patent examiner to assess a patent application. Prior art submitted by Peer-to-Patent Australia is solely designed to assist a patent examiner, who remains the arbiter of whether a patent is to be granted.

There are currently 15 patent applications from seven companies open for review. The participating companies include IBM, Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited, General Electric Company, Hewlett-Packard, Residex Pty Ltd, Yahoo and CSIRO.

Since the focus of the pilot is on business methods and related applications, there is an interesting array of new ideas and technologies in the applications that are open for review. Those applications include methods, systems and apparatus for:
  • converting a decimal number to a binary representation based on processor size;
  • detecting behavioural patterns related to the financial health of a business entity;
  • an arrangement where a customer enters into an agreement with a lender to share equity in real estate property;
  • efficient cooling of server farms;
  • refining mobile device search results using location modifiers;
  • integrating browsing histories with media playlists on a media playback device;
  • interactive specification of context-sensitive service level agreements;
  • controlling a network of trains; and
  • gaming machine systems and methods.
Those wishing to review participating patent applications can register at: www.peertopatent.org.au.

At the moment, we are looking to build our community of reviewers. Any assistance you might give by promoting the project would be greatly appreciated.

Ben McEniery

Peer-to-Patent Australia Project Manager
Faculty of Law
Queensland University of Technology
CRICOS Institution Code: 00213J
GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, Queensland 4000

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