Both the NY Times and the Washington Post have reported a novel method for speeding up the patent review process, apparently inspired by Wikipedia. The details are unknown, but it is announced as a pilot project. Pending patent applications will be available via the Internet (earlier than 18 months?). The examiners will invite comment on the merits of the pending applications. In some form or fashion, the “most respected” comments will be pushed to the top and considered by the examiner.

One curiosity is that Wikipedia is frequently criticized as an unedited source and therefore inappropriate to be cited as a reference source.

Questions abound. How does the patent applicant respond to the comments or criticism of this independent commentator? Does the applicant prepare responses to the commentator and separate comments to the responses of the examiner?

This seems to be a half step to granting third parties the right to object to an issued patent (or about to issue patent).

Will the applicant have the resources to parse through reams of reference data developed by the “commentator” aka the examiner’s new best friend.