William Steele made a patent application for some sort of polar coordinates 3d printer: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wjsteele/ultra-bot-3d-printer/posts/362886

How could I find this patent application so I can show prior art?.

We have a RepRap public mailing list and we believe we talked about this concept before the patent application.

As the patent application is not granted yet I can't find it searching for his name.

It is really a trivial patent that if granted will be very harmful.

  • 2
    Patents are generally published at the 18 month point after initial filing. This is completely separate from a patent being awarded. If it hasn't been granted or pblished presumably you do not know what specifically the inventor is claiming as his new invention. Without seeing the claims it is very hard to form an informed position as the triviality of a patent application, one way or the other.
    – George White
    Apr 20, 2013 at 22:34

3 Answers 3


While I couldn't find the patent myself, it is indeed possible to search patent applications by name. If you go to the USPTO Patent Application Full-Text and Image Database (AppFT) website here, http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html, you can search their full text and image database which is specifically for pending applications.

Note: searching is not as straight forward as one might think.

If you want to search for the applicant's full name, you should format your query as follows: last name-first name-initial. Using the Boolean Search Page to search for an inventor named John E. Doe, you should enter Doe-John-E in the Term 1 text entry box and select the Inventor Name field from the drop-down menu.

If you prefer to use the advanced Search Page, http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-adv.htm, to search for an inventor named John E. Doe, enter IN/Doe-John-E in the Query box.

In either case, if you are unsure of the exact name, you can also truncate in the following ways: Doe-$ or Doe-John$ or Doe-J$, etc.


A patent application that has been submitted but not published will not be publicly available through the USPTO website, Google Patent Search, or anywhere else. It is possible that his application has been submitted and is pending examination, but has not yet been published. If true, this brings good and bad news:

The bad news is that you have no way to access his patent application.

The good news is that it's possible to submit a protest against this pending patent application, as described in MPEP 1901. Note that protests may only be submitted prior to the patent application being published, which might leave you wondering, "How am I supposed to know that a bogus patent application exists if it hasn't been published yet?" Good question! If you see a logical inconsistency here, then you probably understand the rule.

In the chapter linked above, it is stated:

If the protestor is unable to specifically identify the application to which the protest is directed, but, nevertheless, believes such an application to be pending, the protest should be directed to the attention of the Office of Petitions (using Mail Stop Petition), along with as much identifying data for the application as possible.

So if you wish, you may submit a protest to the USPTO and include a description of the supposed patent application, the inventor's name, and relevant evidence of prior art.

All this being said, William Steele in his post was clear about only intending to use his patent to restrict commercial use of his invention, and still wishes to make the design available to the DIY/hobbyist community.


The repolarap looks the same


kind regs,


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