Prior Art: What you need to know

Prior art is commonly defined as any evidence which discloses your invention as already known. A product known to exist in the marketplace before yours in an obvious example, but any public knowledge which discloses your invention (other patents, products, published literature, public demonstrations, etc.), anywhere in the world, can be considered prior art. According to the EPO, it is estimated that for each recorded invention that reaches the market, ten inventions will not[1]. In order to properly qualify the patentability and novelty of your invention, it is necessary to conduct the broadest prior art search possible, including high-yield search databases. To find out more about search databases click here.

Two components vital to any proper prior art search are product searches and patent searches. A quality product search will include keywords that clearly describe what your invention does, as well as a search of existing products which may solve similar needs and problems. It is also important to carry out a competing art search – this can reveal products that are very different from your invention but satisfy the same need. With regard to patent searches, it is imperative that you find every patent document relevant to your invention that you possibly can, using every resource at your disposal – the validity or issuance of your patent depends on it.

Want to learn more about patent searches? We can help! Download our patent search guide today.


[1] European Patent Office