How Non-Patent Literature Can Serve as Conclusive Evidence for Proving Patent Invalidity

Companies and individual inventors perform patent invalidity searches to identify patent and non-patent literature which may impact the validity of a patent. Although patent literature is given more importance while invalidating patents, several landmark cases in the past have shown that non-patent literature can be an equally important evidence for proving patent invalidity. If you are still not convinced, read the following article that discusses how non-patent literature can serve as conclusive evidence for proving patent invalidity.

What is Non-Patent Literature?

Non-patent literature (NPL) can be any publication or document other than granted patents or published patent applications. This includes articles published in prominent scientific journals such as ScienceDirect, The Lens (, ResearchGate, IEEE, Springer, and Wiley Online Library; company websites, e-commerce websites, forums, newsletters, conferences, press releases, and blogs. Furthermore, books, magazines, datasheets, blueprints, Google images, movies, TV series, podcasts, webinars, documentaries, technical manuals, conference papers, research publications, academic papers, invention disclosures, and user guides also fall under the NPL category.

Use of NPL in Major Patent Offices

Major patent offices such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) maintain in-house NPL databases. Furthermore, one out of five search reports released by the EPO includes an NPL citation and more than half of all search reports in the field of biotechnology and chemistry include NPL citations. Although this overall number does not seem impressive at first glance, it is important to note that more than 3% of all search reports contain only NPL citations. Moreover, 2% of the search reports include only NPL documents cited as X (extremely relevant prior art taken alone) or Y (relevant prior art in combination with another document).

Case Studies: How NPL Can Act as an Evidence to Invalidate a Patent

In order to explain how an NPL can act as conclusive evidence for proving patent invalidity, let us study the landmark case between two of the world’s largest technology giants – Apple and Samsung. Notably, in their famous design patent battle, Apple claimed that Samsung had copied the design of the iPad for its Galaxy tab. Samsung defended itself by demonstrating that Apple had patented a common design of a square display with rounded corners that was quite popular in movies. Samsung referred to a sci-fi movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey and also shared a still image from the movie to prove its point. Consequently, Samsung was successful in invalidating Apple’s patent based on an NPL evidence.

In another case, an NPL citation helped in invalidating Apple’s patent publication US7469381B2 that described the company’s bounce back technology. This was an interesting case of invalidity as Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, had disclosed the same concept in a MacWorld conference before Apple filed the patent application. As a result, the German Patent and Trademark Office considered the disclosed concept a valid prior art for invalidating the patent publication.

Final Thoughts

Unlike popular belief that issued patents or published patent applications are invalidated based on patent prior art, NPL plays an equally important role in proving patent invalidity. With the recent advancement in technology, NPL is now available and searchable online. This has helped several companies and individual inventors in gathering conclusive evidence for invalidating granted patents or published patent applications. In case you are seeking ways to invalidate a patent/patent publication or to identify critical prior art, we recommend you reach out to companies such as ours. Sagacious IP’s Patent Invalidity Search service helps you to identify patent and non-patent literature which might affect the validity of patent claims. Our unique methodology helps you to rapidly identify relevant prior arts and delivers the information that you seek, thereby enabling you to make quick IP-related decisions. Click here to know more about this service.

-The Editorial Team

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