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Ask Patents

Looks like Stack Exchange has a new site, but this one is different in a pretty amazing way: it's a collaboration between Stack Exchange, the US Patent and Trademark Office, and Google Patent Search.

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.

USPTO patent examiners will be able to search the site to find prior art they may have missed; 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.

It sounds like a pretty awesome way for the USPTO to engage the public and finally start reforming the patent system from the outside!