Crowdsource competition seeks to digitize US patent process

Worldwide contest invites developers to submit their ideas to help bring the patent office and seven million records into the 21st century.

In September, a new law went into effect that seeks to streamline the US's messy and cumbersome patent approval process . Now, another effort to improve the operations in the US Patent and Trademark Office is underway, to help bring the process into the digital age.

TopCoder, Inc., a provider of online programming competitions, announced that it is working with the USPTO to launch a contest  to draw software developers from around the world to to develop new and innovative algorithms to aid patent office in patent review. A $50,000 reward awaits the eventual winner.

The goal is to develop specialized algorithms to help digitize the seven million patents presently in the patent archive. The USPTO challenge requires advanced knowledge of text recognition, image analysis, and the construction of bounding boxes. For this challenge all participants will compete in teams of two, working together over the course of four weeks to develop their solutions and deliver an algorithm that automatically recognizes and classified images from patent documents. Code submissions will automatically be scored based on their accuracy in solving the problem based on test data.

Up to $50,000 in prizes will be distributed to challenge winners. As an added bonus to the cash prizes, all active competitors will be awarded a special, limited-edition, NASA Tournament Lab T-shirt. Registration is at http://community.topcoder.com/ntl and continues through December 5th.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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