Innovators don’t invent all by themselves: To paraphrase Isaac Newton, great inventors see further than others because they stand on the shoulders of giants. Researchers at the Center for Technology Assessment hope to use that insight to clear out the enormous blacklog of U.S. patent applications, which is stifling American innovation simply because inventors must wait so long to get their patents approved and be assured of their intellectual property.
They argue that a social network for patents—which allows select volunteers to discuss patents and group analogous innovations—could greatly simplify the patent office’s most onerous task: Identifying so-called “prior art”—all the other inventions that inform and compete with any supposed new idea. Already, the researchers have launched the “Peer-to-Patent” pilot project, outlined in the upcoming issue of the International Journal of Technolgy Transfer and Commercialisation. Similar experiments are underway in Britian and Europe.