USPTO Begins Peer-Reviewed Patent Application Pilot Program

Published June 15, 2007

On June 15, 2007, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) began an experimental, pre-grant, patent review program called the Community Patent Review Pilot (CPRP) developed in conjunction with New York Law School. As part of its 2007-2012 Strategic Plan to improve patent quality, the USPTO will use the pilot to evaluate the effectiveness of an Internet-based collaborative analysis of prior art by members of the public. Patent applicants can participate by submitting up to fifteen patent applications to the program. The public can participate by reviewing or challenging a patent application submitted for peer review. Please see here and below for more information on this program.

Participating In The Process

Getting Your Application Into The Program

A patent applicant (or assignee) may participate in the pilot project by filing a consent form that will permit Peer-to-Patent to submit up to ten prior patents/publications and comments based on public review of the application. To encourage participation, the USPTO will conduct an accelerated examination for the first office action on the merits for applications that receive a Peer-to-Patent submission.

To be eligible, an application must:

  • be assigned to Technology Center 2100 (Computer Architecture, Software, and Information Security);
  • be filed under 35 U.S.C. § 111(a) or have entered national phase under 35 U.S.C. § 371;
  • be published during the term of pilot program, but not more than one month before the consent is filed;[1] and
  • not have been previously considered for accelerated examination.

The applicant will be notified if an application is accepted into the pilot project.

Up to 250 applications will be accepted into the project in total during the one year pilot. Fifteen percent of these slots (about 37) have been set aside for those claiming small entity status. Additionally, any given applicant/assignee may have no more than fifteen applications during the pilot. (Note that if no prior art submission is made against an application, it will be processed normally by the USPTO and will not count against the applicant’s limit of fifteen.)

Reviewing or Challenging A Pending Patent Application

The general public may participate in the program by creating an account at the Peer-to-Patent website and becoming a “reviewer.” Reviewers may submit prior art believed to be relevant to a specific application, exchange information with other reviewers about searching for prior art, discuss what the best prior art submissions are, etc. A “facilitator” will be selected from the pool of qualified reviewers to coordinate the discussion for each application.

The submission period to the USPTO closes eighteen weeks after the application is published. Therefore, the collaboration period may be somewhat shorter than eighteen weeks to allow for the initial analysis of the patent application and to prepare the final draft of comments.

At the end of the submission period, Peer-to-Patent will submit the ten best references (as determined by the peer reviewers) to the USPTO, along with an explanation how the prior art anticipates (or renders obvious) the claims being sought in the application.

For more information on participating in the CPRP as a patent applicant or reviewer, or to discuss the possible risks of such participation as a patent applicant, please contact Richard D. Mc Leod.

[1] A Request for Early Publication may be filed, if desired. If the application is accepted, the early publication fee will be waived, otherwise, the application will not be published early. (Source: CPRP).