A trial of the Peer To Patent scheme was launched in the UK today, with the aim of streamlining the applications process and promoting UK innovation.
The scheme will initially run for six months and give members of the scientific and technology community a chance to view, comment on and rate Intellectual Property Office (IPO) patent applications.
It will offer up to 200 patent applications, from computer mice to complex processor operations, for review by registered users for three months.
Their comments will be used to help the IPO incorporate a wider body of knowledge when assessing the validity of a patent.
"The pilot will give experts the opportunity to comment on patent applications and share their vital expertise before patents are granted," said Baroness Wilcox, intellectual property minister, at the launch event.
"It will also mean that inventions already known in the wider community will be filtered out more readily."
It is hoped the trial will help refine methods of discouraging patent trolls – companies that stake their claims to inventions that they have no interest in building. This, in turn, is designed to speed patent application processes.
A summary of each application's comments will be sent to a Patent Examiner at the IPO, who will then consider these as part of the patent review process.
The initial project, which has also been successfully trialled in the US, Japan and Australia, was developed by the New York Law School from the work of Professor Beth Noveck.
The launch also comes only a fortnight after the government-backed review of intellectual property laws by professor Ian Hargreaves called for a major overhaul of the British copyright system, which it said is hampering the digital economy's growth.