What is prior art?

What is prior art?

Prior art is a legal concept. Prior art includes any information that was published anywhere in the world, in any language, at any time before you filed for your patent. When you file for a patent, you have to show that your idea is inventive, or has a “wow” factor, in comparison to the prior art.

  1. Prior art is a broad category. It includes anything published in writing, including on the web; video or audio, including Ted talks; any public speech, including a demo of a product; and products that were released, whether for sale or for free.

  2. Because there is so much prior art, prior art searches are important to do before you file for your patent. You need to know if your idea has that “wow” factor when compared to the prior art.

  3. Not all prior art prevents you from getting a patent. If you can successfully show how your innovation is inventive when compared to the prior art, you may be able to secure your patent.

Prior art is used to determine two important rules for getting your patent: novelty and non-obviousness/inventiveness. Your idea has to be unique and novel, as well as having a “wow” factor over what’s already known. It either has to have a truly unique solution for a problem, or it has to have a new improvement on existing designs.

Because of the existing concept of the prior art, patent searches are essential parts of the patent process. You have to know for sure that your idea is truly as unique as you think. If you file for a patent before a search, your application might get rejected based on prior art.


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