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What is Ask Patents?

Ask Patents is a collaboratively edited Q&A platform for patent experts, inventors and citizens who wish to participate in the US patent process.

The primary purpose of Ask Patents is to help individuals:

  1. Solicit help to find Prior Art for US Patent Applications
  2. Get answers to hard questions about specific patent claims
  3. Ask questions about the US patent system or process

Any individual is free to post a "Prior Art Request" for a US Patent Application. Prior Art found on Ask Patents will be presented to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

A list of currently active Prior Art Requests can be found here: PRIOR ART REQUESTS

As a community we believe that identifying overly-broad patent applications and presenting relevant Prior Art to the USPTO will result in fewer patents being issued with overly-broad or obvious claims.

Ask Patents was designed in collaboration with the USPTO and Peer To Patent, whose efforts empowering citizens to help find prior art inspired the crowdsourced approach you see here. We also worked with Google to leverage the power of Google Patents Search and their new Prior Art Finder Tool.

On September 16th, 2012, the America Invents Act (AIA) became law. The AIA is a bipartisan bill with four goals:

  1. Establish a fast track option to get Patents processed within 12 months
  2. Reduce the current backlog
  3. Reduce patent litigation
  4. Increase patent quality.

To achieve those goals, it’s crucial that Patent Examiners can quickly find any prior art that would apply to an application.

Three new resources now work together to help achieve that goal:

Ask Patents is here to help interested parties ask questions about what type of prior art might be relevant, and to ask for examples of relevant prior art of which the community may be aware.

Google Patents is helping with prior art browsing and discovery. Google’s new Prior Art Finder searches for relevant inventions that precede the publication of a pending patent application. Hit “Discuss” at any patent or application on Google Patents and you’ll arrive at Ask Patents, where you can view questions about the invention or prior art or ask your own.

The USPTO Prior Art Submission Site, launched in 2012, allows a third party (e.g., Ask Patents) to deliver prior art directly to examiners at the USPTO. While it is possible for patent examiners to search Ask Patents for prior art submissions related to a specific patent, the community at Ask Patents also coordinates the submission of prior art directly to the USPTO.