A pilot website recently launched by the U.K. Intellectual Property Office will enable members of the public to examine patent applications online.
The site, still in its pilot phase, follows similar initiatives that were successfully trialed in Australia and the United States.
Users of the site will be able to search and examine pending patent applications. The site will also provide a forum on the merits of patent applications.
According to the UK IPO, the site's central purpose is to enable patent examiners to "crowd-source" some of their work, by drawing on the expertise and knowledge of the wider community.
Douglas Rankin, a patent attorney at Marks & Clerk, welcomed the establishment of the new website. According to Rankin, the initiative "should go some way to improving the general quality of patents granted by the [UK] IPO."
Rankin claimed that the website offers several clear benefits. In particular, he said, it will help to combat the issue of "inappropriately broad patents." This will be an important change in fields such as IT, in which "developments come thick and fast and innovation is frequently sequential in nature," Rankin added.