Privileged Info: The Names Of Referees

The right of scientific journals to keep the identities of their manuscript referees confidential has been buttressed by a recent court decision. The decision, first made last year by a district court and then upheld by a federal appeals court in March, is one of the byproducts of a case brought against Arco Solar Inc. When the solar energy subsidiary of the Arco oil company found itself charged with patent infringement by Solarex Corp. and RCA Corp. for its use of amorphous silicon solar cells, it attempted to demonstrate that the patent for the solar cells was not valid because a manuscript describing the technology had been circulated before the patent was filed. To make its case, the firm sought to force the disclosure of the name of a referee at the Physical Review Letters, where the manuscript had been submitted and rejected in...

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