Wikipedia for Patents?

Recently I have been dealing a lot with patents and I have to say this is not easy! Patents although claimed to be written in english are most of the time just cryptic. It is almost impossible to an effective patent search and even when you get results, just decrypting what is written there is an impossible task. In the field of information retrieval patents I guess are considered something very difficult to crack and I heard of many companies trying to solve the puzzle in different ways, I even heard Thomson have a company that take every new patent and apply to it a new descriptive metadata so it can be retrieved at least. I also heard the same company charges 400$ an hour to use their search engine!!

The only way I can see the information retrieval problem solved is by adding crowds wisdom to the patents base the same way wikipedia works. A web application that would allow you to annotate and add comments/discussions to patents would have been very helpful. I know it might not be the favorite subject for most of the people to annotate patents but I have to admit that I would personally contribute the things I learned from cryptic patents I had to read and understand for greater good. There might be some issue with privacy here but anonymity can solve this or even some rewarding marketplace can do some good job here as well.

Does anyone know of such a product?

Software Patents – Folly March

In Israel the most common entrepreneurial "best practice" is to go and waste precious time, energy and money on registering a patent. Although it is a great revenue stream for patent lawyers, which we have many of those here by the way, still I am not sure whether it is a matter of delaying the unavoidable truth about most innovations - death or maybe it is a matter of a local nature to make sure no one steals your precious secret even if it does not worth a dime.
In real life as I see it, I've almost never seen a startup winning by holding to their patents, especially not in the software world - except of course highly covered (media wise) trials of the giants (MS, GOOG) beating one another with armies of lawyers.

Especially now in the era of web 2.0 startups where the most important factor is time to market and attractiveness of service to consumer.

I hate to see good people with good idea waste time on a practice, which is not "best" at all and highly distracting at early stages.


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