The USPTO is trying something new and different. Until now, third parties only had a very limited opportunity to submit prior art to the examiner during the first 2 months after publication of the application. See Current ‘Opposition’ Practice
A new program operated by the New York School of Law will be allowed to collect up to 10 prior art references and submit them to the examiner with comments (limited to the relevance of the prior art references). Other restrictions apply. The patent application must pertain to computer art (initially Technical Group 2100). The prior art must be received 18 weeks after the application is first published. The prior art references must be submitted through the New York School of Law. Only the agreed top ten references may be submitted for any single application.
The purpose of the program is to ascertain whether third parties can find more relevant prior art than can the examiners.
The pilot program is expected to last into 2008. The applicant must consent to participate in this program. However a participant will apparently move up the line for examination after the peer selected prior art is submitted. Dennis Crouch has published that GE, HP, Intel, IBM, and Red Hat have volunteered applications for the program.