Looks like our SE overlords are about to launch a new Stack Exchange site - Ask Patents. I've been hinted at its existence by a user who committed to the (now closed) Software Law proposal on Area 51.

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Did I miss the memo or something? There's no site entry in Area51, and doubly suspicious is that it already has its own theme.

Sorry if some beans were spilled, but I'm curious why was it kept under wraps.

  • Not that secret if you look at the Meta-User list. – Time Traveling Bobby Sep 6 '12 at 8:59
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    @UnicornifiedBobby: It's "secret" if you can't find it on Area51, and it's not advertised anywhere else on the SE network. And more than 50% of the users are SE staff or affiliated. – mindcorrosive Sep 6 '12 at 9:00
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    Some secrets are meant to be secret. – Toon Krijthe Sep 6 '12 at 9:02
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    Who will be the lucky new owner of SE? Google or the healthy red fruit? – prusswan Sep 6 '12 at 9:04
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    Well, most likely because they want to try it in a controlled environment. This pretty much scratches the area of "legal advice" which is a touchy subject and has the potential to blow into someones face. Despite the discussion I once led with Won't, I now agree that giving legal advice on a website is a problem which needs to be handled carefully. – Time Traveling Bobby Sep 6 '12 at 9:04
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    I think it's better to remove the link to area 51 from its footer as it was not launched by the community. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Sep 6 '12 at 11:01
  • I think every committer to Software Law got an invite. – CodesInChaos Sep 6 '12 at 11:27
  • They also have a chatroom, so it's still not that secret – random Sep 6 '12 at 12:56
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    I am active in the private beta, and believe me when I say this .. you will be very glad this site exists when it launches. I proposed a "Software patent busters" site to crowd source prior art a long time ago that fizzled out, which is why I was invited to the private beta. If this kicks, and it looks like it will, we're all going to benefit. – Tim Post Sep 6 '12 at 14:24
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    It's not secret. It's just patented. – ЯegDwight Sep 6 '12 at 14:42

It's...a site about patents! It'll be in private beta for ~2 weeks, and then you'll hear a lot more about it.

It's in private beta right now like every other new site because we want to have time to set up the site, make sure everything is working right, etc. before the public launch.

Rory's answer does a good job explaining why it didn't go through the normal Area 51 process and gets a special design, but for the most part the site will work like any other SE site and join the network publicly in a couple weeks.

In the meantime, if you're interested in the US Patent system feel free to hop in. Because it skipped Area 51, anyone is welcome to join the private beta.

  • Doesn't private Beta mean only selected users can participate? – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Sep 6 '12 at 14:09
  • @ShaWizDowArd: go ahead and make an account. nothing's going to stop you. – mindcorrosive Sep 6 '12 at 14:10
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    @ShaWizDowArd Usually, yes, but in this case anyone can join and "private" just means we're not announcing it yet. – David Fullerton Sep 6 '12 at 14:12
  • Thanks David! When announced and not in beta anymore, will it appear in the footer alongside the other sites? @mindcorrosive already done that and got 101 shiny points in there! :) – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Sep 6 '12 at 20:51
  • In case you missed it, people are wondering about moderation, and rightfully so IMO. (not a huge deal, but still...) – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Aug 10 '14 at 7:53

Reading the faq will make it clear why this one is a wee bit different

Ask Patents was designed in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Peer To Patent, whose efforts empowering citizens to help find prior art inspired the crowdsourced approach you see here. We also worked with Google to leverage the power of Google Patents Search and their new Prior Art Finder Tool.

So the development was different, and the approach to release has been a bit more low-key.

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    Indeed, I just got to that bit. So it's kind of special, it seems. – mindcorrosive Sep 6 '12 at 9:04

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