Patent Prior Art
Patent prior art covers all information made available to the public in any form before the patent application’s filing date . This issue is relevant when considering the novelty and obviousness of a patents’ claim.
If an idea or invention description is in the prior art, then the patent application might not receive approval.
What About Trade Secrets?
When you keep information secret, then usually it is not part of the prior art. If there are employees, contractors, or others who have access to this data, then you can protect your information before filing by using non-disclosure agreements.
As long as the information about the invention, for example selling a product corresponding to the invention, is not publicly available before the filing date, the granting of a patent is possible even if someone previously knew of the invention.
The Three Types of Patent Prior Art Searches
One or more of three types of prior art searches may occur as part of the patent process.
Patentability searches help inventors to determine if their idea is a novel one. The idea is compared to any kind of publication that is published anywhere in the world, before committing resources toward its completion. It doesn’t stop the creative work, but this process can show you the best way to file your application or not file it.
A validity search occurs after the issuance of a patent. It tries to find prior art that may have been overlooked, for example in order to prevent the patent from being declared invalid in the future.
Finally, a clearance or freedom to operate search is useful to determine if a given process or product would violate an existing patent in effect in certain jurisdiction before commercializing in that jurisdiction and becoming exposed to lawsuits.
When the process is simple and clear, then it is much easier to complete a patent application. Always work with a firm that provides you with the personal, professional attention needed to ensure your idea or invention receives the commercial exclusivity it deserves.