A Web site launched today, WikiPatents, aims to improve the quality of U.S. patents by encouraging large-scale public comment on issued patents and, eventually, pending applications.

A statement announcing the site says:

“WikiPatents is a free-access web site and database containing millions of patents that allows the interested public to discuss, rate, and vote on published patents and, soon, pending patent applications. Most notably, users can add prior art references (publications that closely relate to and predate the patented technology), as well as comment and vote on the relevancy of prior art. Users can also comment and vote on patent value, licensing, technical, and other issues for each patent.”

The site is in beta, but the developers say they hope to soon add all published U.S. patent applications.