There's something beautifully ironic about using an open process for reviewing the protection of intellectual property. But hey, why not? Seeing the USPTO jump on the wiki wagon should be a pretty definitive sign that the rules are indeed changing and that's an exciting thing.
What's really going to be interesting though is seeing if those at the helm of this project has what it takes to finesse a community in the face of the gaming that will inevitably occur in a system where the potential stakes are so high. It's good to hear that Malda et. al. are being consulted, but only time will really tell if they can overcome the outside pressures. I suspect that the fact that what is considered "gaming" on digg.com will legally be considered "fraud" on uspto.gov will help, but clearly legal enforcement can only play part of the solution.
All that aside, most of all I'm impressed with the relative timeliness of the USPTO's experiment, given the usual lag where government and technology overlap. Maybe understaffing isn't always such a bad thing.
From USPTO Peer Review Process To Begin Soon: "An anonymous reader writes 'As we've discussed several times before on Slashdot, the US patent office is looking to employ a Wiki-like process for reviewing patents. It's nowhere near as open as Wikipedia, but there are still numerous comparisons drawn to the well-known project in this Washington Post story. Patent office officials site the huge workload their case officers must deal with in order to handle the modern cycle of product development. Last year some 332,000 applications were handled by only 4,000 employees. 'The tremendous workload has often left examiners with little time to conduct thorough reviews, according to sympathetic critics. Under the pilot project, some companies submitting patent applications will agree to have them reviewed via the Internet. The list of volunteers already contains some of the most prominent names in computing, including Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, as well as IBM, though other applicants are welcome.''