The USPTO recently announced that it is expanding the scope of its Community Patent Review program (better known as Peer-to-Patent) to include patent applications involving automated business data processing technologies (i.e., those which the USPTO places in its technology class 705).
The Peer-to-Patent program is a collaboration between the USPTO, the New York Law School, and others in which participating patent applications receive public scrutiny through comments and prior art submissions on the Peer-to-Patent website. The peer review period begins approximately one month after the patent application is published, and it lasts for four months. After the peer review period, the project sends the prior art and comments to the USPTO, and the USPTO advances the application earlier in its queue for examination. Both the USPTO and the applicant can consider the public comments and submitted prior art during the examination.
For business methods, which (based on current USPTO backlogs) typically don’t receive a first office action until at least three years after filing, the Peer-to-Patent program can expedite the examination process.
Until now, the USPTO’s Peer-to-Patent program has been restricted to 250 patent applications involving computer architecture, software, and information security (i.e., those reviewed by USPTO Technology Center 2100). The expansion of the program will consider up to 400 patent applications in the expanded technical fields.
The USPTO also has extended the program through June 15, 2009. For more information about how to volunteer a patent application for peer review visit the Peer-to-Patent website here.