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What types of questions should I avoid asking?

To keep the Q&A productive, please try to avoid asking questions that…

  • Are argumentative or overly opinionated
  • Provoke endless discussion or ongoing back-and-forth
  • Provide prior art without explanation of relevance
  • Seek prior art, but show little effort trying to find it

Other questions you should avoid are those…

  • relating to trademarks, service marks or copyrights — unless your question relates specifically to how those topics influence the patent system.

  • with unreasonably broad scope. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

  • with unreasonably narrow scope (‘too localized’), e.g. “Is the sippycup my neighbor’s kid has at my picnic right now covered by any design patents?”

  • that are requests for legal or governmental advice. If you want to know how something related to patents works, you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for a legal opinion or formal assurances, you’re not.

  • that are subjective. Subjective questions include those where…

    • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite utility patent?”

    • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use Balsamiq for mocking up my application illustrations; what do you use?”

    • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like Mark Cuban does about patents.”

    • your question is open-ended, or hypothetical: “What if they banned software patents outright?”

    • your post is a rant disguised as a question: “Wouldn’t we all be better off if there was no such thing as fishing lure patents?”