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.

  • 1
    Not that secret if you look at the Meta-User list. Commented Sep 6, 2012 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. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 9:00
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    Some secrets are meant to be secret. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 9:02
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    Who will be the lucky new owner of SE? Google or the healthy red fruit?
    – prusswan
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 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. Commented Sep 6, 2012 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. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 11:01
  • I think every committer to Software Law got an invite. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 11:27
  • They also have a chatroom, so it's still not that secret
    – random
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 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.
    – user50049
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 14:24
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    It's not secret. It's just patented.
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


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? Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 14:09
  • @ShaWizDowArd: go ahead and make an account. nothing's going to stop you. Commented Sep 6, 2012 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. Commented Sep 6, 2012 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! :) Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 20:51
  • In case you missed it, people are wondering about moderation, and rightfully so IMO. (not a huge deal, but still...) Commented Aug 10, 2014 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. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 9:04

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