Today we may well be witnessing, for better or for worse, the dawn of a new era in patenting. The UK Government yesterday begun the trialling of peer to patent, a system that will be run via a tumblr blog (yes, really). Peer to patent is unapologetically acronymysed with the same oh so 20th century acronym of “P2P”. (Is acronymysed a word? No? Well it is now). Peer to patent, well let’s just call it “P2” for now, for simplicity, takes the revolution in the internet age for another spin by allowing the public to view and pass formal comment on patent applications. This really should, if properly administrated present a huge step forward for innovation and freedom of information. A decade on from the fallout of the genetic patent war it’s hard to tell what the impact of a wide open patent review process will have for technological progress.
Peer to patent has been given an initial trial period of until the end of the year but the assumption is that the scheme will be extended and expanded. With similar agreements ongoing in the US and Australia this revolution seems set to make waves. It’s very hard to predict what way these waves will head. In the worst case we may be witnessing the beginnings of a fully globalised patent industry which extends the tradgedy of unaffordable new medical treatments out of the USA and further in to Europe, Africa and the East. In the best case we may see an end to unjust and ill thought out patents. Another possible advantage of an open and informed system would be to help ensure patents actually go somewhere and don’t end up floating in a see of thousands of dead patents in a big-pharma filing cabinet as can currently be the case. Which ever direction p2 takes, technophiles now have an exciting new hangout.
In semi-related news tomorrow at 9am Pacific time, YouTube will reportedly offer the option to license videos with creative commons licences, finally potentially allowing aspiring Lynch’s in the making to knock films together without fear the sound will be pulled by youtube. (This news is from a statement leaked by boingboing, apparently the official youtube statement will be online “in the AM”.)Follow Simon on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, RSS, or join the mailing list.
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