Prior art includes information that has been made available to the public in any form before the date which an invention was conceived. If an invention has been described in prior art, the invention will not be eligible for patent protection. Typically, the costs associated with hiring a patent attorney to prepare and file your patent application are fairly substantial, so it makes sense to understand the likelihood of how patentable an invention is before you get too far along in the patent preparation process.
Prior art is not limited to other patents, but also includes published patent applications, academic and scientific articles, technical literature (such as manuals and instruction guides), online web sites, and traditional print materials (such as catalogs, newspapers, etc.)
One obvious benefit of conducting a prior art search is to understand what similar ideas have already been publicly disclosed, so that you can design around these to make your invention novel and unique.
The results of a prior art search can also assist the patent attorney with drafting the patent application, as they will likely consider the prior art when writing the claims.
Prior art searches should be conducted by all inventors, whether individuals with a single idea, or organizations that processes hundreds of invention disclosures a year.
At Envision IP, we have access to numerous subscription-based patent and non-patent literature databases, as well as expertise in a variety of technical fields. We stay up-to-date with the latest industry innovations so that we can provide unique insights to our clients during the prior art searching process.