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Prior art is a serious issue facing patents today. It’s not unusual for a person or company to patent an idea that already exists, but has not yet been submitted. Now the United States Patent Office wants you – yes, you – to help with the monumental task of uncovering prior art.

All you need to do is head to the Ask Patents site hosted by State Exchange, a popular Q&A site for programmers. The site allows users to ask and answer questions about prior art, clarification on specific sections of U.S. patent law or interpretation of previously existing patents.

One recent question, for example, asks about a patent submitted by Microsoft that covers silencing a phone by giving it a whack. A number of people responded by discussing similar features already available on their smartphones or by posting videos of similar inventions.

Though the site acts as a resource for patent officers it is not a substitute for officially submitting a patent or prior art claim to the patent office. There is no requirement that a patent be checked against Ask Patents before it is processed. User questions and answers act only as a database patent officers can search through. Anyone who wants to officially register a prior art claim can only do so via the official United States Patent Office website.

What do you think of the new site? Will you use it, or is public opinion not enough to combat patent issues? Let us know in the comments.


Source: Ask Patents

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