Understanding Prior Art and Prior Art Searches

Prior Art is one of the most important determiner of success in a patent granting process as it determines the novelty of the invention. An existing and matching prior art means your idea is not novel and it might be futile to pursue such an idea. Thus it is important for inventors to do a thorough prior art search which is also called as patentability search. Thus, before we delve into the world of patenting and inventions it is important to know what prior art is and how to make your hands dirty in doing prior art search. This article is all about understanding the basics of prior art and prior art searchesPrior Art Searches

What is Prior Art? Prior Art Searches

Prior art refers to any scientific and technical information that exists before the effective date of a given patent application. Prior art may be found in any public documents such as patents, technical publications, conference papers, marketing brochures, products, devices, equipment, processes and materials. The “effective date” of a patent application is typically the date of the earliest filed patent application that the pending application can claim. For instance, if the intended application is a division of a parent application filed on March 6, 1990, the effective date of the present application will be March 6, 1990 even though the present application itself was filed much later.

Some important sources of searching prior art are Prior Art Searches

  • Patents
  • Technical Publications
  • Conference Papers
  • Marketing Brochures
  • Products details
  • Devices details
  • Equipment details
  • Dissertations and thesis
  • Journal articles
  • Press releases
  • Books and periodicals
  • Product Images (In case of electronic circuits)

How to Search Prior Art

Step 1: Finding appropriate keyword(s) – Like many other searches, patent search is a kind of database search wherein we put relevant keyword(s) on the database and it returns appropriate search result accordingly. To improve the likelihood of finding the most relevant document it is important to include as many relevant keywords as possible to our search. This can be made possible only when we find maximum number of keywords that can describe our intended idea or invention. Simply put, keyword research is one of the most important elements of prior art search.

Step 2: Product searching- With this, we search already existing products. For many ideas and inventions patent search is far more important than product search wherein we find patents related to our intended invention and try to predict the novelty of the intended invention.

Step 3: Patent Searching- Patent search is one of the most potent prior art search tools that can be used to determine the novelty of an invention in question. Unlike other prior art sources patents are legal and technical documents and thus can be relied upon more compared to the former.

Step 4: Image Searching- Images could be a goldmine of information if utilized prudently. Though text based searches are more convenient, sometimes, a killer prior art can be better found in images like memory circuit.

Understanding Classification Systems- Things are classified for the sake of convenience and same goes true for patent search. Normally different country has different patent classification system that is built as per its own requirements, like in the United States we use USPC (United States Patent Classification System) still, Co-operative Patent Classification System (CPC) is the universal one and patent search professionals tend to do prior art search keeping in mind the CPC System.

Related Services: Invalidity Claim SearchesDesign SearchingPatentability / Novelty SearchesPatent Clearance SearchPatent Landscape Analysis and SearchCompetitor Patent Monitoring

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