Stack Exchange Teams Up With US Patent Office To Crowd Source Prior Art

The new America Invents Act came into effect on September 16, it lets ordinary people provide feedback on patent applications. The US Patent Office and the question/answer resource Stack Exchange are teaming up to create AskPatents. AskPatents allows allows anyone to participate in the patent examination process.

Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Stack Exchange:

"Ask Patents is a collaborative effort, neatly tagged by keywords and classification, and searchable by patent application number. It is inspired by a research project called Peer To Patent, run out of New York Law School. That pilot project, created by Professor Beth Noveck, proved very successful at identifying prior art that the USPTO wouldn’t otherwise have known about.

Citizen volunteers and other interested parties will be able to ask about applications that they think are suspicious. Others can answer, identifying possible prior art, and using our upvote/downvote feature to rate any examples of prior art that other people found.

The USPTO, complying with the new law, will also provide an online system for submitting prior art. We’re also integrating with Google Patent Search, so every patent application on Google will include a link to discussion on Stack Exchange. Google has also implemented an algorithmic prior art search utility that will be helpful to site participants.

On Ask Patents, participants can also ask and answer questions about the nuances of patent law or about specific patent applications.

Collectively, we’re building a crowd-sourced worldwide detective agency to track down and obliterate bogus patent applications. Over time, we hope that the Patent Stack Exchange will mitigate the problems caused by rampant patent trolling. It’s not a complete fix, but it’s a good start."

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