From the FAQ:
Ask Patents – Stack Exchange is a collaboratively edited Q&A platform for patent experts, inventors and citizens who wish to participate in the US patent process. Its primary purpose is to help individuals:
- 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 US patent system or process
Ask Patents – Stack Exchange 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.
If you care about patents or work in the software industry, have a look.