The US Patent System was designed to encourage innovation and science by granting special rights to ideas that were novel, useful, non-obvious and well-specified. Unfortunately the system has devolved in to one granting patents on things that already exist, are trivial or useless. Furthermore companies have figured out how to use "the system" to prevent innovation by patenting competitive ideas so they will not be developed. Others seek patents similar to existing ones for the sole purpose of litigating with anyone having patented success.
Part of the problem is that the system relies on overwhelmed, inexperienced and underpaid patent examiners. Since their determinations are final and not subject to review by the agency itself, their rulings have far-reaching implications. Modern technology has proven that collective intelligence is highly effective in solving these problems. Beth Noveck outlines her proposal to revamp the existing patent system using proven techniques like collaborative filtering and peer review.
Beth Noveck is an Associate Professor of Law at New York Law School, where she directs the Institute for Information Law & Policy. She also founded and runs the Democracy Design Workshop, an interdisciplinary "do tank" dedicated to deepening democratic practice through technology design. Professor Noveck teaches in the areas of e-government and e-democracy, intellectual property, innovation and constitutional law. A Founding Fellow of the Yale Information Society Project, her research and design work lie at the intersection of technology and civil liberties. She is the designer of civic and social software applications, including Unchat, Cairns, the Gallery and the forthcoming Democracy Island.
Professor Noveck is co-editor of the book series, Ex Machina: Law, Technology and Society (NYU Press). Together with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Information Society Project, she hosts the annual State of Play conference on law and virtual worlds. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, she did graduate work at the University of Oxford and earned a doctorate at the University of Innsbruck with the support of a Fulbright.
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