Prior Art: Is That Invention Really Original?

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Prior art is a legal concept that pertains to a proposed patent's originality -- or lack thereof.

Prior art consists of all information that has been disclosed to the public in any form about an invention before the date in question, and which could call into question an inventor's claims that his or her invention is wholly original. Prior art includes things like any patents related to your invention, any published articles about your invention, and any public demonstrations.


Patent law states that, "On taking up an application for examination or a patent in a reexamination proceeding, the examiner shall make a thorough study thereof and shall make a thorough investigation of the available prior art relating to the subject matter of the claimed invention."

This means that prior art could disqualify your application for a patent, and can be used to contest the validity of a patent. As such, a good patent attorney will do prior art research to ensure that the patent application will not be rejected or contested on the basis of prior art.

According to Patentcafe, prior art is "the total body of knowledge, which teaches or otherwise relates directly to an invention. This is the primary criteria in determining the patentability of a new invention. Establishes novelty and unobviousness of the art that relates to the invention in question."

The basis for prior art in U.S. law is found in Title 35, United States Code, Section 102, which states that "A person shall be entitled to a patent unless...

 the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention."

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Your Citation
Bellis, Mary. "Prior Art: Is That Invention Really Original?" ThoughtCo, Jun. 17, 2015, Bellis, Mary. (2015, June 17). Prior Art: Is That Invention Really Original? Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "Prior Art: Is That Invention Really Original?" ThoughtCo. (accessed December 15, 2017).