As I’m sure every inventor knows that in order to get a patent the invention must be based on new idea. Sometimes you might hear the term “prior art” when discussing what is already out there. If there is already prior art on your invention then you can’t get a patent. Prior art is used to invalidate existing patents as well as stop inventors from obtaining patent protection on their idea.
One of the first steps in getting a patent is to search for prior art. Prior art can be found in patents anywhere in the world as well as in published articles, books, magazines or mechanical manuals. Searchers look for prior art because inventors don’t want to file for a patent if the invention is already out there. It would be a costly mistake.
If your invention or part of your invention is public knowledge and is published or talked about about in a cookbook in Bulgaria it could invalidate your patent application. So how do you find information about your idea in that cookbook in Bulgaria? Or in some patent database in Europe or other part of the world?
Some common easy places to find prior art patents is the USPTO or Google patents search engine. And the Google search engine just got bigger. Even though in 2010 Google boasted about having of over 10 terabytes of patent and trademark information that is in their system and available through the Google patent search engine, and now it has a tool specifically to help find prior art outside of the database of patents.
Now you can search the archives included in Google Patents which includes patents translated from the European Patent Office. And once you find a patent that may be similar to the invention for which you are searching you can now use the new Prior Art Finder to find multiple sources for related content that existed at the time the patent you’re looking at was filed.