What do I need to do to ask a good question?

Search for similar questions. Use the site search feature to make sure no one has already asked a similar question. If you’re asking about a specific patent, you can see any other questions about that patent by doing a tag search. Tag search format simply has brackets surrounding the tag name, like this: [US3141592]

Use a model question. For example, requests for prior art for a patent application should follow the form of RFPAs as closely as possible, as explained here: What should an ideal prior art request look like

Show the community you’ve thought about it. Tell us what you already know in the body of your question. When you post a new question, other users, including civilian experts and those at the USPTO, will see your question and hopefully attempt to provide good answers. The more you can do to include relevant details such as patent numbers, publication numbers, links to prior art, and links to patents and applications at Google Patents, the more likely it is that others will be able to help you.

Additionally, questions about specific patents or applications should be tagged with the relevant patent number (for approved patents) or publication number (for applications). See “How do I use tag?” for more.

Patent numbers (e.g. US5640541) - A patent number is a 7-digit ID (preceded by country code) given to a patent that has been granted by the USPTO. A patent number can be found on the first page of a granted patent or in the left panel of a patent viewed at Google Patents.

Publication numbers (e.g. US2012013973 or US 2012/013973 A1) - A publication number is an 11-digit ID given to a pending patent application when it is published. The country code precedes the publication number, with the first four digits representing the year of publication. If an application is published for the first time, it will be appended with an “A1”. If it has been republished it will be appended with an “A2”. If it has been published and corrected it will be appended by an “A9”.

Link to Google Patents - To help the community help you, be sure to hyperlink or include the URL of the patents and applications in Google’s database that are relevant to your question. Google Patents structures its URLs in a straightforward convention: www.google.com/patents/[patent ID]