November 17, 2008

Online Patent Experts Aim To Improve Patent Quality

Article One Partners, an online startup, is offering a reward to anyone who can provide evidence to show the validity of many high-profile patent disputes.

Cases include quarreling companies in the drug, tech, video game markets, among others.

For instance, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd is currently involved in a suit with Motorola Inc over wireless device patents.

What's more, Konami Digital Entertainment, developer of the "Rock Revolution" video game, is suing Harmonix Music Systems and its corporate parents MTV Networks and Viacom Inc for copyright infringement in its "Rock Band" game.

Launched on Monday, Article One Partners is setting out to create a global community of experts who can review patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in order to judge how legitimate each one truly is.

The group is offering a profit-sharing program as well as payments of up to $50,000 to anyone who uncovers evidence that could be used to invalidate a patent.

Article One Partners intends to turn a profit by selling the information it gathers to interested parties.

Company founder Cheryl Milone said Article One Partners plans to focus on "patents that have the greatest economic impact," particularly those that cover valuable products, are involved in costly infringement lawsuits or are in the hands of holding companies that reap royalty payments from others.

The patent system is bogged down with a large housing of investigations, so Article One hopes to alleviate that stress by gathering expert information from various sources.

The company hopes to build on the progress being made by Peer-to-Patent, a program run by New York Law School that publishes patent applications online in order to gather prior art to be passed along to the Patent Office during the examination process.

However, unlike Peer-to-Patent, Article One Partners offers people a financial incentive to donate their time and expertise.

"We feel people should be compensated for the value of their information," Milone said.


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