Software // Information Management
News
12/20/2011
10:54 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Patent Office Presents $50,000 Innovation Challenge

U.S. Trademark and Patent Office turns to crowdsourcing for an algorithm to speed the patent approval process.

Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progres
Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progress
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO) is offering a $50,000 prize to technologists that special in image processing to create new technology to help modernize the process of patent examination.

The USPTO Innovation Challenge seeks the creation of a new algorithm to help reduce the paper burden of its current system for deciding whether to approve patents or not, according to a post on the White House blog.

Currently, people who work in the patent office must examine hundreds of pages of documentation related to the half-million patent applications filed by inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses each year, to make decisions on whether to grant them or not, according to a post by Robynn Sturm Steffen, a senior adviser to the deputy director for policy at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The challenge--developed in collaboration with NASA's Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation--asks participants to work in teams of two over a month to develop an algorithm that can automatically identify and locate specific elements within patent documents to make it easier for patent examiners to do their job.

[ Learn more about NASA's innovation competition. See NASA Unveils Space Apps Challenge. ]

A better way to examine illustrations that are key to whether a patent application is approved or not is specifically what the USPTO is looking for from challenge participants, Steffen said.

Generally in applications, information on illustrations will be scattered on different pages of the document and the patent examiner must "flip back and forth between the textual description and the drawings," she wrote. This, naturally, slows down the process considerably.

However, with software that can automatically identify key features of technical drawings, "a patent examiner would be able to see the descriptive text associated with each part right on the drawing page," Steffen said.

"Few image processing problems can be solved reliably today, but image processing experts think this particular problem is sufficiently well defined to reap the benefits of crowdsourcing, which has a strong track record of surfacing novel solutions from unexpected places," she said.

Agencies increasingly are using challenges and other forms of crowdsourcing to enlist the public's help on better ways of using technology to help the federal government improve the way it works.

The administration even launched the Challenge.gov website in 2010 to formalize how it works with the public on new ideas through challenges.

More than 900 participants worldwide have already applied to take part in the USPTO Innovation Challenge, and judges will decide on the winner before Feb. 16, 2012, Steffen said.

How 10 federal agencies are tapping the power of cloud computing--without compromising security. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek Government supplement: To judge the success of the OMB's IT reform efforts, we need concrete numbers on cost savings and returns. Download our Cloud In Action issue of InformationWeek Government now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
shoffberg
50%
50%
shoffberg,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/21/2011 | 12:59:26 AM
re: Patent Office Presents $50,000 Innovation Challenge
"A better way to examine illustrations that are key to whether a patent application is approved or not is specifically what the USPTO is looking for from challenge participants, Steffen said."

"Generally in applications, information on illustrations will be scattered on different pages of the document and the patent examiner must "flip back and forth between the textual description and the drawings," she wrote. This, naturally, slows down the process considerably."

PTO rules require that the figures be separate from the text. Examination is now electronic, and examiners have dual monitors, to show text and figures or claims and prior art, concurrently. Illustrations in PATENT documents are not "scattered", but in sequence, and are coded in the electronic file (IFW) separately from the text.

Is there any allegation fronm the PTO (and not the Office of Science and Technology Policy) that "illustrations that are key to whether a patent application is approved or not". We (that is, patent folks) all thought it was the _claims_ that mattered. Are there folks out there that really think that the patent examiner has to search millions of pages to find the pretty pictures, and if he/she likes them, the patent is granted?... And, the examiners need fancy algorithms to find the pictures?

Exactly what issue is being addressed here (in this story)? I believe there is a miscommunication. The contest rules and purpose appear clear, and this story fails to do justice to the topic.
Mark Nowotarski
50%
50%
Mark Nowotarski,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/22/2011 | 2:30:15 AM
re: Patent Office Presents $50,000 Innovation Challenge
If anyone has an idea for an algorithm, they might want to file a patent application on it.
The Agile Archive
The Agile Archive
When it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - August 27, 2014
Who wins in cloud price wars? Short answer: not IT. Enterprises don't want bare-bones IaaS. Providers must focus on support, not undercutting rivals.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Howard Marks talks about steps to take in choosing the right cloud storage solutions for your IT problems
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.