Those working in the wireless and hotspot space are well aware of what damage and benefit patents have wrought: For every hard-won, hard-science patent that represents the unique result of expensive research and development that produces a non-obvious outcome beneficial for the market, there are piles of business-method patents that are just irritating. Until now, once a patent is issue, getting a review is a pain. The issuance assumes that overworked and underpaid patent examiners have discovered all prior art or evaluated the original and non-trivial nature of a patent. Often, not the case, as is found out after expensive litigation, as more of these patents fall into the hands of firms the objective of which isn't innovation but extracting tolls.
You see where my sympathies lie.
The US Patent and Trademark Office thus wins kudos from me and all right-thinking people--all people who want patent examiners to have perfect knowledge of all prior art--through their pilot project called the Patent Peer Review Pilot Project. The notion is that scientific peers and later unaffiliated third parties will be able to contribute to the patent process by providing relevant, potentially overlooked prior art. They'll have a briefing on May 12 in Alexandria, Virg., limited to the first 200 registrants.
Again, hard to see where opposition to this effort would produce a reasonable statement. For instance, this doesn't fly, does it? "Patent examiners don't have the right to see all prior art that's well known to the scientific, business, or other communities for which this patent is relevant." Nope.
IBM is one of the sponsors of The Community Patent Project, a New York Law School effort that helped produce this USPTO plan. More importantly, they're putting their patents on the table for the beta test. [link via BoingBoing]