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A lot of people are grumbling about USPTO 9,430,468, "Online peer review system and method", which describes (if I'm reading it right) Elsevier's system of reallocating papers rejected from Journal A to a potentially more suitable Journal B. Parts of the patent describe the general process of peer review and (partly because of this) some of the criticisms currently circulating seem to think that this is a patent on the process of online peer review itself, which would clearly be ridiculous. However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has picked this as its 'stupid patent of the month' for August, pointing out various examples of a similar process called cascading peer review dating back to at least 2009 (example 1; example 2). Eff clearly has concerns about the novelty of this patent.

My question: what, if any, are the differences between Elsevier's now-patented 'waterfall system' and 'cascading peer review'?

(I'm not sure if this would be a better fit for Law.SE, but thought the audience here would be more familiar with the important areas of the peer review process)

1 Answer 1

Cascading Peer-Review is the result for focusing on reducing costs and improving efficiency (specially time and improvements on network of journals), many publishers have implemented services to redirect rejected manuscripts to related journals within their field.

It seems the “Waterfall Process” is the same with Cascading Review in the first glance. However we are not lawyers to judge this matter. It can be fully determined by professional review of the claimed patent. But it seems in overall, as EFF states: "The waterfall idea was not new in 2012. The process had been written about since at least 2009 and is often referred to as cascading review."