Peer To Patent is Washington's first social networking iniative, using a network of volunteers to help figure out if an invention deserves to be patented. The volunteers, normally scientists and technologies,
connect with patent examiners, and like Obama says, this "taps the intelligence" of the American public.
A few words about how it works:
The peertopatent.org solicits public volunteers to submit pertinent info,
generally any "prior art" related to the invention.
Volunteers select themselves, which in practice works well.
The patent examiner works with the self-selected team, for example, they'd
research the invention, uploading relevant publications and suggestions
for further research for use by the patent examiner. Others in the team
might comment on the relevance of submitted pieces of prior art.
Following online discussion, each team vets the submissions made by its
members. The group votes on which ten submissions are most relevant and
those are then forwarded to the Patent Office.
From The Economist (paid content): Peer to Patent builds on…the notion
that practitioners and researchers within a particular field collectively
have all the relevant prior art at their fingertips already. All the
patent office needs to do, therefore, is to get that community to tell it
what it already knows.
Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, has endorsed Peer to Patent, and adds that it can
be generalized to a lot of government:
Pressing a theme popular with Barack Obama's tech surrogates, Schmidt also
waxed enthusiastic about the power of network technology to create a more
transparent and participatory politics. "Government has not embraced,
generically, the tools we all use every day," said Schmidt. "It's time."
Pointing to the Patent Office'sPatent Office's Peer-to-Patent program for
crowdsourcing patent application analysis, Schmidt asked "why is that not
true of every branch of government?" The same "police of the Internet" who
debunked political rumors during the campaign could be turned on key
legislative and regulatory issues. "A lot of people care passionately
about them," joked Schmidt, "and they obviously have a lot of free time."