This looks like an interesting addition to the patent review process. Ultimately, I am skeptical that it will make a significant impact on the process, bit it certainly cannot hurt and may even help!
Originally posted on Gigaom:
A new partnership between the US government and a popular Q&A site may help rid the country of the low quality patents that have produced an endless series of lawsuits that threaten to stunt parts of the technology sector.
Starting today, the website Stack Exchange will run a channel devoted to patents on which the public can help scrutinize pending application. The move serves to crowdsource the arduous task of examining patents, permitting the general public to submit information that will help the patent office decide whether or not something is a new and useful invention.
It works like this. Once a patent examination is made public, anyone can submit it to Stack Exchange and launch a discussion. Others can then offer “prior art” that they believe is relevant to determining whether the patent should be granted. The collection of prior art is then sent on to an examiner at the USPTO who makes the final decision. To prevent gaming of the system, people are allowed to make only one submission with up to three pieces of prior art (additional submissions are possible but require a $120 fee).