Most of the plans coming out for patent reform simply move the problem around, rather than actually tackle the issues facing the patent system. One new proposal (just from a law school, not within government) is intriguing though. The idea would be to open up the patent system and make it more like peer-reviewed research journals. Inventors could apply to have a patent reviewed the traditional way (with an examiner) and get a short, five year, patent. Or, they could open it up to be peer reviewed by experts in the space -- and if it passes, they get a twenty year patent. There are some logistical questions that this raises, and given that the peer reviewed scientific process is under some criticism lately you can see how this might not be a perfect solution either. However, it is at least worth exploring. Clearly, the current system of having a general patent examiner who isn't all that familiar with the technology in question isn't working at all.
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