HERE IS HOW PEER TO PATENT WORKS:
STEP 1. Review and discuss Patent Applications
To review applications you first need to find an application in which you are interested. There are four ways to find an application:
- Go to the Application List page and review the list of currently active applications (you cannot edit or contribute to archived applications). Some basic information about each active application is available in this list, such as how many people are contributing, how much prior art has been found, how many annotations have been made, and how long this application will remain active. The count in the application list shows how many people are contributing to that application.
- A second approach is to search for an application. You can input keywords such as “database” in the search field, and the results will list all applications (both active and archived) that address databases.
- A third approach is to browse the US Patent Classifications and look for applications in a particular subject matter category. First, find the major class in which you are interested. If there are applications in that class, the number of applications will be listed to the right. Next, click on the title of that class (it’s in blue), and that will take you to a list of subclasses in that class. Again, the number of applications in each subclass will be listed to the right. If you now clikc on the subclass title (again, it’s in blue), you will get a specific listing of the applications available for review in that subclass. [NOTE: If you check the Subscription box to the right of a class (and subclass) listing, you will receive an e-mail alert when further applications in that class/subclass are added.]
- A fourth approach is to use the tag cloud that appears on the Home Page. This shows applications organized by keywords that others have added to the application metadata. [And, of course, you are strongly encouraged to add your own tags to applications to better help others find them.]
Once you find the application you want, you can review information about the application. If you put the mouse pointer over an application title the abstract, assignees, and other data about the application will pop up. If you click on the title it will take you to the application’s Activity page:
- The Activity page shows a summary of any recent activity such as discussion or prior art postings. It also shows the background of the folks participating in the review and the amount of activity related to each claim. The Activity page is also the place where you can add key words to help identify the nature of the application. Additional pages are shown along the right-hand side of the Activity page.
- The Application page allows reviewing the text and diagrams of the actual application.
- The Discussion page allows discussion of the application and you can post comments or request information from others here. This is a good place to meet other reviewers and to coordinate your search efforts.
- The Prior Art page lists all prior art that has been posted against this application to date.
- The Research page is where you can find what research work has already been done or that which has not been done but has been suggested.
- Finally, there are two additional tabs on the right-hand side, one for subscribing to this application that alerts you when new materials have been posted, and a second that permits you to easily invite another person to participate in the review of this application.
STEP 2. Research and find Prior Art
If you want to participate in the search for and posting of prior art, there are two places to work: the Prior Art page and the Research page.
- The Prior Art page allows posting new prior art, reviewing any prior art that has been provided by others, ranking the posted prior art as to its relative merits, and adding an explanatory annotation to the prior art (for example, explaining what specific passage in the prior art is of greatest relevance). It is this prior art and the related annotations that will be forwarded to the USPTO examiner at the end of the review.
- The Research page allows you to list any research that you have done and to learn about the research done by others. For example, even though a prior art search turned up no results, by posting it here you help others avoid replicating your work.
- From the Research page you can also find a list of search resources for conducting your own research related to this application. Note that these search resources are general search resources and not necessarily specific to the application on which you are working.
STEP 3. Upload Prior art relevant to Claims
You have conducted your search and you have found some prior art that you believe is relevant to the application on which you are working. Now it is time to post it.
- The Prior Art page allows you to submit your prior art. Hit the Submit Prior Art button to start. A number of the fields that are displayed are mandatory. If you haven’t filled in a mandatory field, you will see a warning in red at the top of the page after you hit the Submit button (which is all of the way at the bottom of the page).
- You can also view a list of the prior art submitted by others on this page.
STEP 4. Annotate and evaluate all submitted Prior Art
Once you have posted your prior art or have reviewed the prior art of others, it is time to annotate that prior art and or vote on its relative merits. This is important because only the top ten prior art references are submitted to the USPTO for review by the patent examiner:
- The Prior Art page allows you to view a list of prior art. To review all submitted information, be sure to look at each prior art detail page by clicking View Full Prior Art.
- You can also add an annotation to the prior art you have posted or that posted by others. These annotations are important because they help the patent examiner understand why you believe the prior art is important. For example, you may add an annotation telling the examiner that the relevant passage in the prior art is on page 3 in paragraph 2. These annotations along with the prior art are forwarded to the USPTO examiner. Examiners have told us these annotations save them a lot of time and better help them understand why the prior art has been submitted. To add an annotation:
- Go to the prior art that you wish to annotate. From the prior art list click View Full Prior Art on the item you want to annotate.
- scroll to the bottom; there is a field there for annotations – Input a note / annotation.
- You can also rank the prior art. Only the top six prior art references are forward to the patent examiner, so rating is an important step. A simple mechanism is used to rank the applications. There are “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” symbols below each item of prior art. Simply register your vote (in your opinion is the prior art worthwhile and relevant or not). This simple voting technique is used to stack rank the prior art and to determine what will be forward to the patent examiner if there are more than six prior art references.
STEP 5. Prior Art references forwarded to USPTO
After the review period, which typically lasts 90 days, the top ten prior art references are forwarded to the USPTO. When the patent examiner reviews the application the prior art provided by the Peer To Patent community will be included in the scope of the review. Applications that participate in Peer To Patent are moved to the head of the queue for examination and first office action, typically reducing the time to a first office action by as much as a year. Once the information is sent to the USPTO, the application will be moved from the active list to the archived list. You can still see all of the information on archived applications, you just cannot update it.