Actually, they need to revamp the system so that the abstract of the patent is announced and posted publicly

I'm not sure even that is safe, for some combination of the following reasons:

  1. Even an abstract has to be detailed enough to distinguish the invention from other similar work. In many cases, it would be impossible to provide this necessary level of detail without also giving away the key ideas of the invention.
  2. Companies would monitor these abstracts. Every one would be challenged multiple times, often based on only the slimmest of pretexts by big rich companies with no principles
  3. Industrial espionage is real. I've seen it first hand. Publishing abstracts would basically be telling the thieves where to look.
  4. Companies like the one in Redmond already have a tendency to announce vaporware for the sole purpose of squelching innovation by competitors. Publishing abstracts would allow them to do this more efficiently and effectively.

There's no shortage of companies that would be willing to steal an idea from an abstract, block the patent with bogus claims of prior art, and then outmuscle the inventor in the marketplace. The endless counterclaims would make the patent process even more cumbersome, making it even more difficult for the patent office to keep up. The net result would be that patents would fail to protect inventors - in fact it would make them even more vulnerable to various forms of predation - and nobody would bother filing for patents at all. Everything would end up being protected as trade secrets instead, meaning that they'd never be disclosed, and I don't think that would be a good thing.

I don't think abstracts should be made completely public. However, I think patents are important enough to justify a different solution: the patent office should, like a court, be able to subpoena experts within a technology area to comment on the potential validity of a patent. Obviously, some safeguards would have to exist:

If examining patents were considered a civic duty for experts in a field, just like jury duty is for all citizens, I think that would be a big improvement. It would have the same effect as drastically increasing the number of patent officers, but without the cost. Obviously there would still be a lot of legal wrangling going on, but I believe it would be a lot less than currently.