The USPTO’s 2007-2012 Strategic Plan outlines a number of initiatives to improve patent quality and timeliness. Among those initiatives is a Peer Reviewed Prior Art pilot, which is designed to determine the extent to which the organized submission of documents together with comments by the public might provide useful art for Examiners. Under the program, the public reviews volunteered published patent applications and submits art and comments. This pilot was launched on June 15th, 2007, and is scheduled to conclude June 15th, 2009.
The Incentive to Volunteer
An application that successfully completes a posting and review process and has at least one prior art document (including a compliant submission from Peer-to-Patent) forwarded to the Office, will receive advancement of examination for the first Office action on the merits. Thereafter, further prosecution of the applications submitted under this program will continue in the conventional manner.
Thus, as an incentive for consenting to participate in this pilot, an application will be advanced “out of turn” for initial Office action on the merits. This might typically result in a first Office action months earlier than would otherwise be issued. In addition, an applicant may also pair participation in this pilot with a request for early publication, further accelerating prosecution.
To Qualify for the Pilot
Not all applications qualify for the pilot. Applications that qualify are those that:
- were filed under 35 USC § 111(a) or have entered the national phase under 35 USC § 371;
- are properly classified in a Technology Center 2100 (Computer Architecture: Classes 380, 700, 703, 706, 707, 108, 710, 711, 712, 714, 715, 717, 718, 719), Technology Center 2400 (Computer Networks & Cryptography and Security: Classes 380, 709, 713, 726) or Technology Center 3600 (Business Methods, Class 705);
- have recently published (within the past month);
- do not have a notice of non-publication; and
- are not participating in the Accelerated Examination Program.
How to Volunteer
To participate in this pilot program an Applicant must submit to the Office the consent form located at www.uspto.gov/web/patents/peeriorartpilot, and name the real party in interest for the application. The consent includes an express written authorization for any Peer-to-Patent submission to the Office to include comments describing the relevance of each document to the claims.
The Office will accept no more than 25 total written consents (corresponding to 25 total separate applications) from any one Applicant, assignee (to include subsidiaries), or affiliates.
More information about the program is available on the USPTO website at:
http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/peerpriorartpilot/. There is also a project website at http://www.peertopatent.org.
© 2009, Michael E. Kondoudis
The Law Office of Michael E. Kondoudis
DC Patent Attorney