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In patent law, prior art refers to public information that may be relevant and argumentative in determining whether or not a claim of originality can stand. For an invention to be patentable, it must prove to be patentably distinct from the prior art.
A prior art search is a patentability research process that utilizes public information, including published US and international patent applications, books, journals, magazines, websites, social media, and scientific papers, to research evidence that may invalidate, anticipate, or render obvious an invention’s claims.
According to the USPTO, a complete prior art search should encompass text searching, patent classification searching, and patent citation searching.
Text searching: Text searching provides research on keywords and terms that describe the concept of your invention.
Classification searching: A classification search can provide relevant classification information for your invention. For organizational purposes, USPTO and EPO patents are categorized within the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system according to their common subject matter.
The eight primary classification areas include:
- A: Human Necessities
- B: Performing Operations; Transporting
- C: Chemistry and Metallurgy
- D: Textiles and Paper
- E: Fixed Construction
- F: Mechanical Engineering; Lighting; Heating; Weapons; Blasting;
- Engines or Pumps
- G: Physics
- H: Electricity
You can find the complete list of patent classifications and descriptions on Espacenet.
Patent Citation Searching: Citation searching dives into interrelated art that references a patent or patent application deemed pertinent to the claimed invention.
You can conduct a basic prior art search on your own through a variety of different search resources: utilizing Google Patents, through the USPTO, through Espacenet, via WIPO’s PATENTSCOPE search database, or through the PQAI free patent search platform!
When performing a preliminary search for prior art and patentability, the USPTO recommends the following:
- Identify the key terms that describe your invention, its purpose, how it’s composed and used.
- Utilize those terms to identify and verify a relevant Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) for your invention.
- Perform a search on the CPC classification through one of the resources listed above and identify any relevant patents and published patent applications.
- Review the relevant patent results in-depth, including the drawings and claims, to identify any relevant prior art.
The PQAI tool was developed to minimize your online patent search approach to your patent search. It will carefully curate a list of the most relevant prior art and extract the relevant prior art information for your review.
Prior art searches are often overlooked but remain a critical component of the patent process. Simply put, a prior art search can help you determine if your invention is eligible for a patent.
For an invention to be patentable under US patent law, a claimed invention must be novel and non-obvious. According to AIA 35 USC 102, a person is entitled to a patent unless their claimed invention has already been described within a published patent application or an issued patent or described in the public domain before an effective filing date.
It is important to note, the claimed invention must also qualify as patent-eligible subject matter under 35 USC 101. That is, even if your invention can be shown to be novel and non-obvious, it may still be disqualified from patentability if it covers subject matter that falls within a category that is excluded from patent protection under the law. Examples of excluded categories include, for example, laws of nature, mathematical formulas, abstract ideas, and certain business methods and economic practices.
There are a variety of different professional patent searches available that can assist in the patent process. Each type of patent search offers a specific purpose and ranges in complexity and approach.
At Founders Legal, some of the core patent searches we offer include:
- Novelty Search
- Patentability Search
- Freedom to Operate Search (or Clearance Search)
- Patent Invalidity Search
- Commercialization Research
Patent Phase: Ideation
A Novelty Search or Search for Patentability is a common form of patent search often utilized at the early ideation stage. The primary function of this search is to determine if an intervention is Inventive and novel, critical criteria for patentability. The search utilizes the worldwide patent databases according to the search strategy, unearthing relevant applications, patents, and non-patent
Literature. This search also provides a general overview of the competitive landscape.
Patent Phase: R&D
FTO searches assess the patent landscape to determine if making, using, or selling particular inventions risks the possibility of infringing upon any other patents. This patent plays a prominent role in the invention’s R&D phase and can guide a marketing strategy.
Patent Phase: Issued
A Patent Validity/Invalidity Search is similar to a novelty search in that it assesses related prior art. However, the primary focus of this search is to identify patents and prior art that may impact the claims of novelty, inventiveness, and validity of an issued patent.
Patent Phase: Development, R&D
Exclusive to Founders Legal, the Commercialization Search is a comprehensive patent search geared towards owners seeking to commercialize, license, or sell their intellectual property. This search provides what a standard patentability search would cover, but further identifies potential licensing and sale opportunities, key Inventive Concepts (ICs) for disclosure, and provides data-focused reporting to result in a strong patent strategy and plan of action.
PQAI, which stands for Patent Quality through Artificial Intelligence, is an open-source tool developed by the PQAI team, collaborating with patent professionals and visionaries. PQAI utilizes a combination of industry-leading patent professional insight, AI technology, a database of 11 million US patents, and published patent applications. Nearly 11.5 million research papers provide users with a custom, high-quality prior-art search report. Inventors, innovators, patent portfolio managers, and enterprises of all sizes can access the tool at no cost to conduct their prior-art searches. Furthermore, the tool narrows the scope of the results to the closest, most relevant prior-art findings, easing the user’s investment of time into the search process.
Innovation fosters growth. PQAI is designed to improve patent quality worldwide through accessibility, especially for individual inventors and small companies constrained by budget and patent resources.
Founders Legal is a proud advocate for the IP Rights of small and medium technology enterprises within the US patent system. In an initiative to make high-quality patent search results more accessible than ever, Founders Legal collaborated with PQAI to assist in the search tool’s technical advisory and development process.
- Type a brief description of your invention into the search field.
- Click the ‘Find Prior Art’ button.
- Click on the title of each result to see a summary and reference.
- Save the relevant filings.
- Refine your search query to hone the results.
- Print a report of your saved findings.
These results provide a great starting point for setting a course for the commercialization of your invention. Looking to commercialize your product? View Founders Legal’s custom Search for Commercialization service.
This application has been developed to provide the most relevant results to help you determine if your invention is novel. For a more comprehensive search, consider one of our professional patent services.