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Patent Search & Analytics

Patent Novelty: What You Need To Know Before Filing

By September 15, 2022No Comments

To obtain a patent, the invention described in your application must be novel, nonobvious, and useful. The patent novelty requirement, as described in 35 U.S.C. §102, simply means your idea is new and has never been publicly disclosed. There is no prior art, including patents and nonpatent literature, that describes your specific invention. Your technology has never been offered for sale as described in your patent application. Your invention as it’s described in your patent application would not be infringing on an existing patent if it were to be published.

In the US, there is an exception to the patent novelty requirement. If the inventor discloses a technology and files for a patent on that technology within the year-long grace period, the invention is still novel.

Conducting a Patent Novelty Search

A patent novelty search is used to determine whether or not your idea is novel by reviewing prior art that is semantically and conceptually similar to your invention. Classification codes are also a helpful strategy for identifying relevant patents during a novelty search.

Any patent search requires resources, whether your internal team uses an innovation suite like InnovationQ Plus® and IQ Ideas PlusTM or you turn to IP professionals outside your organization like the US-based team of experts at IP.com. It can be tempting to limit the time and money you spend on patent novelty searches. However, you must consider the consequences of inventing and filing without an understanding of similar prior art. IP.com recommends completing a novelty search multiple times within the innovation lifecycle, including during ideation and before completing your application. Understanding the patent landscape and potential areas of infringement early in the innovation process allows you to direct R&D resources to truly novel ideas.

Later on, a novelty search can steer patent lawyers and technical writers as they complete the patent application. Reviewing the prior art allows them to write a patent that describes a patentable invention and focuses on the most novel elements. This not only keeps your organization from investing in a patent application that will not be approved due to patentability but can minimize the time and resources spent during patent prosecution.

It’s important to note that a patent novelty search is not a guarantee of patentability, or even of novelty. There are millions of patents in the US alone. The sheer volume of prior art, as well as patent applications within the last 18 months and the opinion of your patent examiner, can impact the novelty of your innovation. However, conducting a thorough novelty search mitigates some of the risk your organization faces when applying for patent protection. It also satisfies your duty to disclose under 37 CFR § 1.56.

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