The USPTO is asking the public to participate in helping examiners streamline the patent prosecution process as part of the new executive actions that the administration announced on February 20th at the White House. “In that announcement, the USPTO committed to refining the current third party submission process and exploring other ways that the public can provide potential prior art to the agency.” There already have been many organizations that expressed their willingness to aid in the efforts to modernize the prosecution process by providing the examiner with more information at their fingertips. Such organization include: Cisco, The Clearing House, IBM, Microsoft, Rackspace, SAS, Verizon, and Yahoo!
However, how will this affect the smaller businesses and individual inventors? In 2012, the USPTO announced that efforts are underway in providing more transparency and help to smaller businesses and individual inventors, such as through a newly launched social media network: Ask Patents by Stake Exchange. Giving smaller businesses and individual inventors the opportunity to submit prior art as part of the crowdsourcing efforts along with the social media network for related questions, the USPTO is helping level the playing field. These efforts will help smaller businesses and individual inventors gain access to better and cheaper resources to understand what it takes to ultimately create a more robust provisional patent application and eventually a non-provisional utility patent.