Why is Prior Art Search Important for Innovators? – Before we move on to determining patentability through prior art, it is important to understand what a prior art is and why do companies need to do prior art searches or patentability searches before investing their hard-earned money into an invention. Speaking simply, every invention is supposed to meet three basic criteria for being granted a patent, one is ‘Novelty’, the second is ‘Utility’, and the third is ‘Non-obviousness’. With novelty, we mean that the invention is new to the world and has not been published anywhere in the world in any form of documentation before its priority date. prior art search
The importance of novelty criteria could be understood with the simple fact that many patents were revoked even after the patent grant making whole attempts of a company futile. Thus it is important for R&D professionals to determine that their intended invention is not available anywhere in the world. And the best way to determine this is by doing a thorough and full prior art search that can reveal existing prior art pertaining to an invention. prior art search
Definition of Prior Art
Prior art can be defined as any scientific and technical information that exists prior to the effective date of a patent application. The effective date varies from country to country depending upon the prevailing patenting system like first-to-file and/or first-to-invent whichever is applicable. prior art search
Resources for Doing Prior Art Search
Prior art can be any published document claiming all/some of the features that is available before the grant of the priority date of a particular invention. It can be any journal article, technical publications, marketing brochures, press release, product information brochure, product catalogs, newspaper article, books, periodicals, or patents. prior art search
Main Purposes of Prior Art Searches
- To generate ideas for R&D
- To avoid duplication of research
- To reduce significantly R&D investment
- To develop new technical solutions to problems
- To evaluate specific technology
- To plan new products
- To identify state-of-art of technologies
- To find legal status of patent applications
- To assess novelty and patentability
- To market for commercialization
- To update new technological trends
- To monitor competitor’s research activities
- To prevent infringement actions (validity, ownership etc.)
Why do innovators rely on patent documents for prior art?
For a thorough and comprehensive prior art search it is important for an applicant to go through every available data source including articles, press releases, product brochures and many more, nonetheless, patent documents are something that is being relied by people more than any other form of prior art and below are some of the reasons for the same. prior art search
Detailed information- Since it is the duty of an applicant to describe inventions in such a way that persons skilled in the art can reproduce them. Providing insufficient disclosures can result in the rejection of a patent application hence we can rest in peace that in patent documents we can find detailed information which is not possible otherwise.
Patent documents are easily accessible- With the advent of the information age, it has become very handy for people to get relevant information. These days every country has its own patent database that houses documents pertaining to inventions that are either granted or are under review. Since these data are easily accessible these days on the respective patent office website these are accessible easily.
Patent information is up to date- Usually, companies don’t reveal their R&D work on scientific journals or other such publications to avoid their information being leaked. However, most of them are willing to disclose their invention after being granted a patent as it offers them a monopoly for a certain period of time. Thus, unlike other content related databases patent databases are up to date.
Systematic classification of documents- Unlike other repositories of documents patents are classified according to different areas of technology. This makes searching relevant documents handy. Most of the databases like USPTO, and WIPO use IPC (International Patent Classification) code to segregate patent documents as per their technology area and thus if you are acquainted with International patent classification System, or US patent classification system you can rest in peace that your data will not be intermingled.
Patents offer more than technical information- While an article relating to an invention usually contains a few lines; a corresponding patent document describes it thoroughly with multiple images and pages. This illustrates the huge quantity of information that can only be retrieved from patent documents.