I'm relatively new here, so I'm still trying to get the hang of what sorts of questions are really appropriate here. I'm used to Stack Overflow, where questions are a little more generally applicable. But on here I've noticed that there's actually native support for tagging particular patents, and that people tend to ask questions like "has this application been granted?" Is that kind of question appropriate? I would initially call it a "no research effort," although I also know more about finding information on this stuff than most people do, even just in that I, and I imagine anyone else on this Meta site, knows about the PAIR systems.

There are also even more specific questions that I sometimes see, like https://patents.stackexchange.com/questions/9876/blood-diluent-and-method-of-use-thereof for example. This person is asking a specific detail about the invention, not about the patent or application. Am I right to think that that's inappropriate?

When I first came across Ask Patents, I assumed it would be more questions like "What's the difference between a provisional and a non-provisional?," or "how long does a patent last?" I recognize that those sorts of questions would lead a short-lived SE site, and I certainly have no problem with answering more detailed and specific requests, I'm just curious of what exactly is meant to be on here. What's the mission of Ask Patents?

  • Excellent question -- I was just looking at exactly the same question, and was asking myself the same.
    – Soren
    Jul 17, 2014 at 4:00

1 Answer 1


I believe that to discuss the technical merits of any patents, or even their applicability in specific fields, would require the type of subject matter experts who would naturally be unwilling to discuss such matter in public.

Reason being that they would very likely have written patents in the area themselves, and any expressed opinion may weaken their own patents claims, or may put them in a bad light if they later are questioned by courts in a case of litigation where they may come up with an answer inconsistent to their publicly expressed posts.

Hence the best I can think this site can answer, is the questions around the process of patents, excluding all but the most superficial explanations of what is claimed in a patent.

The help page list the following topics as acceptable question types;

  1. Prior art for a US patent application...
  2. US patent law or the patent approval process
  3. Specific aspects or interpretations of a particular patent claim
  • Fair enough. That's what I figured. Maybe it's just that it's a young site without a lot of highly-ranked users, but I'm also used to bad questions getting shot down relatively quickly, so I was surprised to see that specific one still floating around after days, hence I thought I'd ask. Thanks! Jul 17, 2014 at 19:12
  • I think it is just low activity -- George White is the top user with 7K, and only 8 users have over 1K rep -- I think the only time when this site will get any traffic will be for "Prior Art" calls.
    – Soren
    Jul 18, 2014 at 0:13
  • That's very fair. As I said, I certainly hold no issue with there being a place for people to ask those sorts of questions, particularly since there aren't that many questions about IP in general that are generic and not attorney/patent agent worthy. It's just a very different vibe than StackOverflow gives, or many other Stack Exchange websites, so I was curious of whether that's by design or not. But it sounds like it is. Jul 18, 2014 at 0:15

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