The Peer-to-Patent project, spearheaded by Beth Noveck in her law professor days before she became Deputy U.S. CTO for open government, often gets talked about as one of the more successful examples of how citizens can be invited in to do the actual work of governing. Alas, from now on, it will have to be talked about in the past tense. The U.S. Patent Office has chosen not to renew the project. Peer-to-Patent has fallen victim, says its leaders, to the country's troubled economic situation. From their just-released second anniversary report:
As we conclude Year Two of the Peer-to-Patent project I am reminded of the opening line of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” By almost every conceivable measure Peer-to-Patent has met or exceeded the goals established at its outset. Yet, due to the broad economic downturn of the past year we find that we are unable to continue the Peer-to-Patent project at this time. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has placed a moratorium on extending the pilot beyond June 2009 until they can complete a full evaluation of the impact Peer-to-Patent has had on the quality of the examination process. Those who have expended so much money, time, and energy to make Peer-to-Patent what it is remain hopeful that the program will be renewed in the near future, either as an extended pilot or a standard part of USPTO practice.
The report is chock full of details of how the experiment in fixing the patent mess through citizen-expert engagement worked over the course of its two-year run. Read the full thing here.
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