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In our new site's "About" page we have this:

Ask Patents is a collaboratively edited Q&A site for patent experts and inventors to:

  • Solicit help finding prior art that might apply to a patent or application
  • Get answers to hard questions about specific patents
  • Ask questions about the the US patent system or process

I've bolded the third bullet point which almost casually drops in the US qualifier. I can't seem to find anywhere else on the site detailing more specifically whether questions about the patent systems of other parts of the world are on- or off-topic.

If the site is US-only, which may or may not make sense given the ties it apparnetly has to US organizations, I think it should be more prominently stated right on the front page if not in the site's title.

Relatedly, would it be fair game to propose SE sites on say EU patents, or patents for "everywhere but USA" etc?

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On September 16th, the America Invents Act (AIA) will become law in the US. This will make it possible for individuals to participate directly in improving the quality of patents issued in a way that wasn't previously possible, by submitting prior art that would invalidate an application directly to the USPTO online.

As a result, our focus in launching the site has been on how we can help take advantage of these changes in the US to improve the system. And that's why our description of the site's focus references the US specifically.

That said, non-US questions about patents are welcome here, and our hope is that over time, the site will become the place to find prior art and get good answers to hard questions on patents everywhere.

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    Shouldn't non-US patents be sought out as prior art in connection with US patents and US applications? – bib Sep 7 '12 at 3:15
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I think this site should cover non-US patent systems as well. There are many situations when one needs to compare patent laws in various countries and investigate consequences of specific legal acts in cross-border trade. For example, EU countries do not allow software patents while the US does.

I wouldn't make sense to start another SE site for EU patent law. That way you'd end up with one site for each country. Having all questions related to patent law under one site helps build larger comunity and share more knowledge.

  • I am new to the SE community, but my suggestion is that the site should offer answers to questions relevant to the US patent system - even when those questions also involve non-US patent issues. I don't know whether the tag system is up to distinguishing those questions that are wholly within the US patent system from those that raise non-US patent issues as well. Perhaps the default could be US-only, with tags for other jurisdictions and a tag for multiple jurisdictions. – user96 Sep 6 '12 at 15:35
  • @user96: The tag system will handle it great. It comes down to what the Stack Exchange people think the site should cover I think. So still waiting for an official answer. – hippietrail Sep 6 '12 at 15:44
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I think it makes sense to start with the site being focused on the US patent system only, and then if it is successful try and branch out beyond just the US. To start with the whole world will add unnecessary complexity to the site while it is still young and could stifle contribution. I can only speak about the US IP community, but I'm not sure how active IP communities in other countries are, plus there is also the fact that many of the world's largest IP holders are in fact US companies, for what it's worth.

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