As part of its anti-patent troll initiative, the White House announced a new crowdsourcing initiative at PTO. Should be interesting. Is government by the people taking on new expanded meaning and moving beyond representative democracy?
The idea of crowdsourcing patent review was tested on a few hundred patents already. PTO used Stack Exchange to test it. Interestingly, one of the patents shot down in this test was an application from Microsoft, and as explained by Joel Spolsky prior art from Microsoft was the basis for the refusal.
However, looking at the activity currently on Stack Exchange, I’m not sure how great a service PTO will get there when the novelty wears off. Since no one is really paid for their expertise, it doesn’t seem totally suited for this task. How much independent expert input would a totally voluntary service get? Seems like you’d get a lot of competitors who will fight patents, and that might help, but is it sufficient?
Developing panels of independent experts on Mechanical Turk or a similar service would bring in more independent expertise. Article One Partners is a crowdsourcing patent research service which Microsoft itself has used.
Perhaps a mix of open public input and crowdsourced expert panels would work to fight the trolling problem.