WASHINGTON — New York Law School and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) will extend and expand a year-long pilot project designed to streamline the patent examination process by opening it to scientific and technical experts.

The law school also announced the launch of its new Center for Patent Innovations, headed by Mark Webbink, formerly the senior vice president and general counsel at Red Hat, the premier Linux and open source vendor.

The Peer-to-Patent Project will be extended until June 15, 2009, and expanded to include applications in the automated business data processing technologies, or business methods.

PTO Director Jon Dudas said, “The USPTO continues to support the pilot of Peer Review to help it fulfill its promise as a way to help get the best prior art expeditiously before the examiner. Extending and expanding the pilot to include business-method patent applications will add more participants to the pilot and help us and the public better assess the effectiveness of Peer Review.”

Peer-to-Patent was founded by New York Law Professor Beth Noveck. It is the first social networking project with a direct link to decision-making by the federal government. Data from the first year of the pilot shows that an open network of peer reviewers can improve the quality of information available to patent examiners.

Because of the project’s success, the law school launched the Center for Patent Innovations (CPI), a group that will focus on developing community-building technology to improve the patent system. CPI will incorporate the Peer-to-Patent project and expand it by developing software-based service solutions that can be used by governments and communities of interest, designing methods for government and corporate partners to work together to produce better patents, and drafting legal frameworks to enable and enhance collaborative opportunities.

Noveck will serve as chairman of the board of advisors.

Webbink said, “CPI will become a pioneer in the patent field, helping to create an environment of participation with patent examiners, scientists, and knowledgeable experts, thereby improving the understanding and effectiveness of patent systems. Establishing the Center for Patent Innovations was a natural progression for the Peer-to-Patent project.”