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What is Prior Art?

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Prior art is all public information that existed at a particular date. An invention can't be patented if it existed in prior art before the date of the patent application.

Trade Secrets

A patent can be granted on an invention if others were aware of it but kept it secret. As such, keeping trade secrets is a risk.

Defensive Publication

A firm may publish techniques, methods and designs to the public in order to create prior art that prevents competitors from developing patents.

Duty of Disclosure

In many jurisdictions, it is a duty to disclose any material prior art known by the inventor. Failure to disclose prior art can be considered inequitable conduct that may render a patent invalid.

Detail & Prior Art

Prior art is any recorded information that is available to the public before a particular date. To be considered prior art it should be detailed enough for a person skilled in the art to use.

Conversations & Traditional Knowledge

Generally speaking, conversations and secret information aren't included. In some cases, traditional knowledge has been considered prior art even if it wasn't explicitly recorded.
Overview: Prior Art
Intellectual Property
All public information that existed at a particular date.
A patent sufficiently described in prior art is invalid.
Patent law and interpretations of prior art differ from one jurisdiction to the next.
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