US Patent and Trademark Office goes social
A pilot project launching soon will put patent applications up on the web, allowing visitors to the site to post comments. There'll also be a rating system for comments, pushing the most popular comments to the top of the list. In other words, users who visit Digg, Netscape, and other social news web sites will find the process pretty familiar, and could play a role in approving or rejecting patents.
The first items to go online will be about 250 patent applications related to software design. That's a field where it's quite likely that many visitors to the web site will have greater expertise than the patent officers reviewing the applications.