Hunting season is now open on software patents, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Stack Exchange and Google are teaming up to make it easy for geeks to shoot down overbroad and ridiculous patents.
Thanks to a change in patent law that went into effect this month, third parties who think a patent application is flimsy or invalid due to previous art or obviousness can now file evidence and comments to the USPTO, starting Thursday morning. Previously, it was illegal for the USPTO to take outside parties comments into account when evaluating a patent application.
Making the process even easier, Stack Exchange, the popular Q&A site for coders, has teamed up with the Patent Office and Google to crowdsource analysis of patents before they are issued.
Visit patents.stackexchange.com, and you can find a list of patents that others have submitted for debunking or you can submit your own candidate. Users can then find prior art, discuss the patent’s validity, and ultimately submit their evidence directly to the USPTO with the click of a button. Rounding out the partnership, Google’s handy patent search site will show links to Stack Exchange discussions about patents surfaced in search results.