While the increasing number of innovations from small R&D companies have made our lives easier, the process to legally register new products has become much more complex. Between 2003 and 2008 the number of patent filings has nearly doubled to 6.37 million filings per year, making it difficult for companies to research prior art before filing their patent application.

Some online tools like Google Patents have made aspects of this process easier and cheaper, but still lack the depth and quality of an expensive patent lawyer. The Estonian startup, CrowdIPR, seeks to bridge this gap by introducing crowdsourced knowledge from technology experts into this specialized area.

When submitting a patent application to the government, companies must first determine the novelty of their product. They do this by researching everything that has been previously published which pertains to their technology or “art.” Patent Attorney and CrowdIPR co-founder Mikk Putk came up with the concept of CrowdIPR after being faced with an increasing amount of information to cover when doing prior art searches for new patents. Due to the explosive growth of new patents filed, “crowdsourcing seemed to be the way to go.”

CrowdIPR follows a fairly straightforward crowdsourcing model; companies submit new searches of intellectual property for the community to review. Patent searchers post links to relevant patents and pull information from a directory of resources. The most valuable searchers are then rewarded with cash or gift cards.

Aside from the cost, there are also several benefits for small companies to use CrowdIPR compared to traditional technology searches. As CEO Taavi Raidma puts it, “CrowdIPR uses crowdsourcing to access more skills, experiences, languages, search power, and research tools.” And instead of hiring a technology searcher at an hourly wage, on CrowdIPR companies can negotiate a fixed cost upfront.

As a crowdsourcer it doesn’t seem like a bad deal either. CrowdIPR seems to be a great way for technology professionals to make a little extra money on the side by pulling from their existing knowledge.

Founded in Estonia but now working out of the Ignite100 incubator in Newcastle, CrowdIPR is still in private beta.

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