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What is a Prior Art Search/ Patent Search?

A prior art search is a search for documents that could affect an applicant’s ability to acquire patent rights on a particular invention.  In the patent world, the term “prior art” means disclosures or documents such as scientific publications, patents and patent applications that are known to the public before a patent application is filed.  In many cases, a prior art search is a search of several databases to find prior art.

Generally speaking, after an applicant files a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), an Examining Attorney at the USPTO will perform a prior art search to determine what prior art exists that might affect the patentability of the invention. Under United States patent law, to be patentable an invention must be patentable subject matter, useful, new, and non-obvious.  For a more detailed explanation of these requirements please review the article “Is My Invention Patentable?”.  However for the purposes of this article, suffice it to say that if the USPTO Examining Attorney finds a single prior art disclosure, or is able to combine multiple prior art disclosures, that disclose all elements of the invention seeking to be patented, the Examining Attorney may reject the invention as un-patentable in what is known as an office action.

While not legally necessary, many applicants find it wise to have a patent attorney conduct a prior art search and analyze the results of the search before filing or deciding to file a patent application.  The patenting process does have significant fees and costs associated with it and in many cases may take years for a patent application to complete the examination process.  Because of this, many individuals and businesses use a prior art search to determine the probability that an invention will be granted a patent before deciding to draft, prepare and file a patent application.  Analyzing the prior art before filing an application also assists an individual or business in deciding what type of patent application to file and assists in crafting a strategy for protecting ideas and inventions.

In the United States, only patent attorneys licensed to practice before the USPTO can analyze the results of prior art searches and advise clients as to the probability of being able to patent an invention.  Plus IP attorneys, Mark Terry, Esq. and Derek Fahey, Esq. are available to conduct prior art searches and to analyze the results.  Mark Terry and Derek Fahey have reviewed hundreds (if not thousands) of inventions and advised numerous clients as to the probability of acquiring a patent on their invention.  The attorneys at Plus IP have also assisted clients in acquiring numerous patents in a variety of areas, including software patents, mechanical patents, electrical patents, and chemical composition patents.  If have any questions regarding patents, filing patent applications or prior art searches, then contact the attorneys at Plus IP.