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Comment Peer review? (Score 3, Insightful) 383

As someone who works in physics research, and is concerned more with publishing papers than getting patents (although my advisor has quite a few), I'd be curious to see if something like a peer review system could work for patents. As with scientific journals, the editors (in this case, patent office personnel) can't be expected to thoroughly know every subject matter that comes their way, but it's not that difficult to find experts in the field who can point out flaws or know right away if work is fraudulent or unoriginal.

Are there any downsides to this that I'm not seeing, besides the obvious one that it will require researchers and inventors to volunteer time? I know that Physical Review Letters has a policy that the editors will automatically reject a significant percentage of submitted papers deemed obviously inappropriate for publication before sending them on for review, something similar to which would probably have to be implemented here, maybe just in the form of the current system.

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