Peer to Patent

グーグルで調べた限り、日本ではあんまり紹介されていないようなので、米国で進行中の「特許審査プロセスをオープン化するプロジェクト: Peer to Patent」について、簡単に紹介しておく。
提唱者はBeth Noveck。New York Law SchoolのAssociate Professor。
去年の7月、Wired Newsで紹介された。「Web Could Unclog Patent Backlog」,68186-0.html

In a bid to shake up the beleaguered American patent system, a law professor has crafted a proposal that would shift the patent-application process away from individual examiners to an internet-based, peer-review method.
Called Peer to Patent, the proposal by Beth Noveck, director of New York Law School's Institute for Information Law and Policy, aims to relieve the current system, in which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a backlog of half a million cases. Noveck's plan would turn the review process over to tens or hundreds of thousands of experts in various fields who would collectively decide an application's fate via a massive rating system not unlike that of eBay.

特許申請は増える一方、審査官の負荷は重くなるばかり、未審査申請特許はうず高くなり、認可までの時間は長くなる・・・という深刻な問題に対して、その審査プロセスを「an internet-based, peer-review method」にしてしまうことで解決を図ろうという提案だ。

Noveck's idea is that by turning patent review over to field experts, applications will be evaluated by people who understand the issues rather than by an overburdened examiner who may have had to bone up quickly on a subject.
"The idea is to create a living, breathing ecosystem of scientific expertise," said Noveck, "where the community decides on its own criteria of expertise."

Wikipedia」における百科事典編集者コミュニティと同じような意味での、特許審査コミュニティをネット上に創出できれば、現在の特許申請プロセスに大きな変革をもたらすことができるという考え方だ。構想の論文「“Peer to Patent”: Collective Intelligence and Intellectual Property Reform」(45ページ)はここで、

The patent system needs our help. The United States Patent Office is actively seeking ways to bring greater expertise to bear on the review of patent applications and ensure that only worthwhile inventions receive the patent monopoly. Currently, underpaid and overwhelmed examiners struggle under the backlog of applications. Under pressure to expedite review, patents for unmerited inventions are approved.
Sponsored by IBM, the Community Patent Project seeks to create a peer review system for patents that exploits network technology to enable innovation experts to inform the patent examination procedure. In every field of scientific endeavor, peer review is a critical quality control mechanism to improve innovation. Throughout the public sector both peer review and citizen consultation are either legally mandated or practiced as a way to inform policymaking.
The Community Patent Project aims to design and pilot an online system for peer review of patents. The Community Patent system will support a network of experts to advise the Patent Office on prior art as well as to assist with patentability determinations. By using social software, such as social reputation, collaborative filtering and information visualization tools, we can apply the “wisdom of the crowd” – or, more accurately the wisdom of the experts – to complex social and scientific problems. This could make it easier to protect the inventor’s investment while safeguarding the marketplace of ideas.

IBMの名も明記され、「Wisdom of the crowds」(この場合はWisdom of Expertsと呼ぶべきだろうとも書かれる)という言葉も出てくる。
進捗が逐一報告されている。IBMだけでなくマイクロソフトRed Hatも支援を始めている様子。5月には、米特許商標庁も巻き込んでの正式なパイロット・プロジェクトも動き出したようだ。
「Peer to Patent Project Launch - May」

Peer to Patent Project Launch - May
The USPTO has announced:
USPTO to hold Briefing on Patent Peer Review Pilot Project
Alexandria, VA - May 12, 2006
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold a briefing on May 12, 2006, from 9:00 a.m. to noon in the agency’s Madison building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA. The USPTO has created a partnership with academia and the private sector to launch an online, peer review pilot project that seeks to ensure that patent examiners will have improved access to all available prior art during the patent examination process.