WASHINGTON (April 25, 2014) – Crowdsourcing holds promise as a technique to expand the relevant prior art available to patent examiners, wrote the R Street institute in a letter to the U.S. Patent and Trade office today.

The letter goes on to point out that as communications networks have broadened and the costs of data transmission have fallen, crowdsourcing has emerged as a process that can efficiently and effectively consolidate dispersed market information.

“Those most interested in potential patents have the greatest incentive to submit the best available prior art. This art would be added to the PTO archive and made available for future searches,” wrote R.J. Lehmann, senior fellow with the R Street Institute. “The process makes the database stronger and, in turn, strengthens examinations.”

Lehmann pointed out that the same methods could also improve the parallel system of design patents, which constitute a growing and increasingly important part of the patent landscape and will only continue to grow in importance as 3D-printing technology continues to expand.

“We would urge the office to work with Congress to explore changes that would allow the benefits of crowdsourcing to be extended to design patents, as well,” wrote Lehmann.

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