This is interesting.
"There is work underway to create a peer review system for patents at the Peer-to-Patent Project. Led by Beth Noveck, the Director of the Institute for Law & Policy, the Project aims to design and pilot an online system for peer review and to support an advisory network to the Patent Office. The online system will incorporate social software, such as tools that faciliate for social reputation, collaborative filtering, and information visualization.
Why a peer to patent review process? "The patent system needs our help. The United States Patent Office is actively seeking ways to bring greater expertise to bear on the review of patent applications and ensure that only worthwhile inventions receive the patent monopoly. Currently, underpaid and overwhelmed examiners struggle under the backlog of applications. Under pressure to expedite review, patents for unmerited inventions are approved...." (To keep reading, click here)"