Prior art is the body of knowledge that is currently known in the state of the art on a subject before the inventor added something new to it. Prior art includes any previous patents, technical papers and publications, and public knowledge that exist in the world, in any language. The body of knowledge that is prior art is massive and is getting bigger every single minute. Conducting a prior art search is a crucial part of your patent journey.
As we frequently say at Thompson Patent Law: There is nothing new under the sun. Everything is made of old things. We’ve seen many cases where an inventor deeply believes that he or she has developed something new and revolutionary, only to face the shock that’s it’s been done before.
That’s why we always perform our own extensive search of a variety of sources and databases to determine whether the invention is indeed new, and nonobvious, relative to everything else that is known.
What Is a Prior Art Search?
The prior art search is the project of intelligently cutting into that mass of worldwide information—all that is currently known in the state of the art—and figuring out if your new technology is patentable, and if the Point of Novelty is different or new, and not obvious, relative to everything else that is known.
The goal of searching the prior art is to identify what has already been done in the same field and determine whether the invention meets the requirements under patent law.
What are the Benefits of Searching Prior Art?
There are a number of benefits to searching prior art, but for starters, when we know “what is already out there,” our next actions begin to take shape. We may begin to ask:
* What can we claim to distinguish the invention from the existing prior art?
* What patents exist that will block or anticipate our invention?
* How might we improve the invention by incorporating ideas from prior innovations of others?
One critical rule patent applicants must follow is the duty to disclose known prior art. Everyone associated with filing a patent application is obligated by law to submit relevant prior art and then disclose to the Patent Office. If you’re serious about pursuing a patent, you should be conducting a prior art search.
How to Get Help Conducting a Prior Art Search?
If you are ready to move forward with conducting a prior art search for your design or invention, we invite you to contact our patent attorneys for assistance. We will guide you through the next best steps, as well as how to use the information that surfaces during your prior art search to make wise and profitable decisions throughout your patent journey.