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What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. IP is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs. For an introduction to IP for non-specialists, refer to: Intellectual Property Rights As mentioned earlier, the creators or owners are granted certain exclusive rights over their creations or works. Such exclusive rights are called intellectual property rights. These rights help them benefit from their creations and also enable them to protect their work. In that way, intellectual property is like any other real property which is financially beneficial for the owner. The monetary benefits are said to encourage people to come up with new inventions and creations. Intellectual property rights also enable the owners or creators to protect their work. These rights can be related to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to this statute, "everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author". So, owners of intellectual property can benefit through protection of the moral and material interests of their creations. Types of Intellectual Property Rights An intellectual property can be either artistic or commercial. The artistic works come under the category of copyright laws, while the commercial ones (also known as industrial properties), include patents, trademarks, industrial design rights, and trade secrets. Copyright laws deal with the intellectual property of creative works like books, music, software and painting. Industrial properties cover those created and used for industrial or commercial purposes. As stated earlier, intellectual property is categorized into various types as per the nature of work. The most common types are copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets. So, these rights safeguard the interests of the owners of IP. If you are an author, who has written a new book, you can apply for a copyright for your work. Likewise, patents can be obtained for inventions. Once you establish your IP right, you can protect your work legally.

Copyrights: A copyright is a right conferred on the owner of a literary or artistic work. It is an exclusive right to control the publication, distribution and adaptation of creative works. The right lies with the owner-cum-copyright holder for a certain period. As the time lapses, the work can be republished or reproduced by others. Usually, in most countries the timespan of a copyright extends through the entire life of the owner and lasts up to a period of about 50 to100 (70 years in the U.S.) years after his/her death. In case of anonymous works, the right lasts for 95 years from the date of first publication or 120 years from the date of creation. Trademarks: A trademark is a symbol generally used to identify a particular product, which indicates its source. A trademark can be a combination of words, phrases, symbols, logos, designs, images, or devices, used by an individual, legal entity or business organization to distinguish their products from others. For example, you can identify the products of Nike Inc., from the logo, which is embossed on their products. Once registered, trademarks are protected legally and the owners can sue persons for unauthorized use of their trademarks. Patents: Patents are rights related to new inventions. Such rights are conferred on persons who invent any new machine, process, article of manufacture or composition of matter and biological discoveries. In order to be patented, the invention should fit into specific criteria, which may differ from country to country. In general, the invention must be new and should be useful or can be applied in industries. The person who receives a patent for his invention has an exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling or distributing the patented invention without permission. Generally, the time limit of a patent is 20 years from the date of filing the application (for the patent). Industrial Design Rights: These rights protect the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian, but have an aesthetic or ornamental value. It may refer to the creation of a shape, color, pattern or a combination of all these things. It can be an industrial commodity or a handicraft. The design can be either two-dimensional (based on pattern, colors and lines) or three-dimensional (as per shape and surface). An industrial design right is conferred after considering factors like novelty, originality and visual appeal. The person who has an industrial design right has the exclusive right to make or sell any objects in which the design is applicable. The right is conferred for a period of 10 to 25 years. Trade Secrets: Trade secrets are the designs, practices, formulas, instruments, processes, recipes, patterns, or ideas which are used by a company to gain an economic advantage over its competitors. The owner of a trade secret does not possess any right over anyone who gains access to that secret independently, but he can prevent the use of the trade secret by anyone who has learned it through the owner. For example, an employer can protect trade secrets through contracts with his employees. Trade secrets differ from other types of intellectual property rights,

because it is the responsibility of the owner to keep the secret and it is not protected through government policies. Once the trade secret is leaked, it can be used by any person. Intellectual property rights have encouraged people to come up with indigenous creations, as the law protects their rights over their works. Thus, it is very important to respect these rights and refrain from infringing them Objectives The stated objective of most intellectual property law (with the exception of trademarks) is to "Promote progress."[12] By exchanging limited exclusive rights for disclosure of inventions and creative works, society and the patentee/copyright owner mutually benefit, and an incentive is created for inventors and authors to create and disclose their work. Some commentators have noted that the objective of intellectual property legislators and those who support its implementation appears to be "absolute protection." "If some intellectual property is desirable because it encourages innovation, they reason, more is better. The thinking is that creators will not have sufficient incentive to invent unless they are legally entitled to capture the full social value of their inventions." [13] This absolute protection or full value view treats intellectual property as another type of 'real' property, typically adopting its law and rhetoric. Other recent developments in intellectual property law, such as the America Invents Act, stress international harmonization. Trademark law is not based in the intellectual property clause of the U.S. Constitution, and has distinct policy objectives which are not discussed here. Financial incentive These exclusive rights allow owners of intellectual property to benefit from the property they have created, providing a financial incentive for the creation of an investment in intellectual property, and, in case of patents, pay associated research and development costs.[14] Some commentators, such as David Levine and Michele Boldrin, dispute this justification.[15] Economic growth The WIPO treaty and several related international agreements are premised on the notion that the protection of intellectual property rights are essential to maintaining economic growth. The WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook gives two reasons for intellectual property laws: One is to give statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations and the rights of the public in access to those creations. The second is to promote, as a deliberate act of Government policy, creativity and the dissemination and application of its results and to encourage fair trading which would contribute to economic and social development.[16]

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) states that "effective enforcement of intellectual property rights is critical to sustaining economic growth across all industries and globally".[17] Economists estimate that two-thirds of the value of large businesses in the U.S. can be traced to intangible assets.[18] "IP-intensive industries" are estimated to generate 72 percent more value added (price minus material cost) per employee than "non-IPintensive industries".[19][dubious discuss] A joint research project of the WIPO and the United Nations University measuring the impact of IP systems on six Asian countries found "a positive correlation between the strengthening of the IP system and subsequent economic growth."[20] Economists have also shown that IP can be a disincentive to innovation when that innovation is drastic. IP makes excludable non-rival intellectual products that were previously non-excludable. This creates economic inefficiency as long as the monopoly is held. A disincentive to direct resources toward innovation can occur when monopoly profits are less than the overall welfare improvement to society. This situation can be seen as a market failure, and an issue of appropriability.[21]

Morality According to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author".[22] Although the relationship between intellectual property and human rights is a complex one,[23] there are moral arguments for intellectual property. The arguments that justify intellectual property fall into three major categories. Personality theorists believe intellectual property is an extension of an individual. Utilitarians believe that intellectual property stimulates social progress and pushes people to further innovation. Lokeans argue that intellectual property is justified based on deservedness and hard work. Various moral justifications for private property can be used to argue in favor of the morality of intellectual property, such as: 1. Natural Rights/Justice Argument: this argument is based on Lockes idea that a person has a natural right over the labour and/or products which is produced by his/her body. Appropriating these products is viewed as unjust. Although Locke had never explicitly stated that natural right applied to products of the mind,[24] it is possible to apply his argument to intellectual property rights, in which it would be unjust for people to misuse another's

ideas.[25] Lokeans argument for intellectual property is based upon the idea that laborers have the right to control that which they create. They argue that we own our bodies which are the laborers, this right of ownership extends to what we create. Thus, intellectual property ensures this right when it comes to production. 2. Utilitarian-Pragmatic Argument: according to this rationale, a society that protects private property is more effective and prosperous than societies that do not. Innovation and invention in 19th century America has been said to be attributed to the development of the patent system.[26] By providing innovators with "durable and tangible return on their investment of time, labor, and other resources", intellectual property rights seek to maximize social utility.[27] The presumption is that they promote public welfare by encouraging the "creation, production, and distribution of intellectual works".[28] Utilitarians argue that without intellectual property there would be a lack of incentive to produce new idea. Systems of protection such as Intellectual property optimize social utility. 3. "Personality" Argument: this argument is based on a quote from Hegel: "Every man has the right to turn his will upon a thing or make the thing an object of his will, that is to say, to set aside the mere thing and recreate it as his own".[29] European intellectual property law is shaped by this notion that ideas are an "extension of oneself and of ones personality".[30] Personality theorists argue that by being a creator of something one is inherently at risk and vulnerable for having their ideas and designs stolen and/or altered. Intellectual property protects these moral claims that have to do with personality. Writer Ayn Rand has argued that the protection of intellectual property is essentially a moral issue. The belief is that the human mind itself is the source of wealth and survival and that all property at its base is intellectual property. To violate intellectual property is therefore no different morally than violating other property rights which compromises the very processes of survival and therefore constitutes an immoral act Patent Definition As pointed out by Peter Prescott QC, the expression "patent application" is ambiguous.[1] It can bear two different meanings: 1. The legal state of affairs that is constituted when a person requests the competent authority to grant him a patent and that request is still outstanding. 2. The content of the document or documents which that person filed with a view to initiating the above; most pertinently, a description of the invention together with at least one claim purporting to define it. The first of those the request for a legal privilege to which you will be entitled if your application be well founded is an institutional fact, and is temporal by its very nature. It ceases to exist as soon as your application is withdrawn, is refused, or is

granted. The second of those, the informational content of the document as filed (or in other, prosaic words, the piece of paper), is a historical fact that never goes away, no matter what the Patent Office does, or anyone else does. It exists in perpetuity.[1][2] The expression "application" is often employed without being conscious of its ambiguity.[3] The expression is capable of misleading even experienced professionals.[3] National, regional and international applications Depending upon the office at which a patent application is filed, that application could either be an application for a patent in a given country, or may be an application for a patent in a range of countries. The former are known as "national (patent) applications", and the latter as "regional (patent) applications". National applications National applications are generally filed at a national patent office, such as the United Kingdom Patent Office, to obtain a patent in the country of that office. The application may either be filed directly at that office, or may result from a regional application or from an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), once it enters the national phase. Regional applications A regional patent application is one which may have effect in a range of countries. The European Patent Office (EPO) is an example of a Regional patent office. The EPO grants patents which can take effect in some or all countries contracting to the European Patent Convention (EPC), following a single application process. Filing and prosecuting an application at a regional granting office is advantageous as it allows patents in a number of countries to be obtained without having to prosecute applications in all of those countries. The cost and complexity of obtaining protection is therefore reduced. International applications (under the Patent Cooperation Treaty) The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is operated by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and provides a centralised application process, but patents are not granted under the treaty.

Exemplary PCT procedure, with a U.S. provisional application as a first filing The PCT system enables an applicant to file a single patent application in a single language.[4] The application, called an international application, can, at a later date, lead to the grant of a patent in any of the states contracting to the PCT. WIPO, or more precisely the International Bureau of WIPO, performs many of the formalities of a patent application in a centralised manner, therefore avoiding the need to repeat the steps in all countries in which a patent may ultimately be granted. The WIPO coordinates searches performed by any one of the International Searching Authorities (ISA), publishes the international applications and coordinates preliminary examination performed by any one of the International Preliminary Examination Authorities (IPEA). Steps such as naming inventors and applicants, and filing certified copies of priority documents can also be done centrally, and need not be repeated. The main advantage of proceeding via the PCT route is that the option of obtaining patents in a wide range of countries is retained, while the cost of a large number of applications is deferred. In most countries, if a national application succeeds, damages can be claimed from the date of the international application's publication.[5] Types of applications Patent offices may define a number of types of applications, each offering different benefits and being useful in different situations. Each office utilises different names for the types of applications, but the general groups are detailed below. Within each group there are specific type of applications, such as utility patents, plant patents, and design patents, each of which can have their own substantive and procedural rules. Standard application A standard patent application is a patent application containing all of the necessary parts (e.g. a written description of the invention and claims) that are required for the grant of a patent. A standard patent may or may not result in the grant of a patent depending upon the outcome of an examination by the patent office it is filed in. In the U.S., a standard patent application is referred to as a "non-provisional" application. A non-provisional patent application is a term referring to a United States patent application that is not a provisional application. The term arose in 1995 to distinguish what were at the time "normal" patent applications from the newly established provisional applications. A complete non-provisional application differs from a provisional in that a non-provisional must contain at least one claim and is to be

examined. A non-provisional application may also claim priority to a prior filed application, which is not permitted with provisional applications

Provisional applications Provisional patent applications can be filed at many patent offices, such as the USPTO in the U.S. A provisional application provides an opportunity to place an application on file to obtain a filing date (thereby securing a priority date), but without the expense and complexity of a standard patent application. The disclosure in a provisional application may, within a limited time (one year in the U.S.), be incorporated into a standard patent application if a patent is to be pursued. Otherwise, the provisional application expires. No enforceable rights can be obtained solely through the filing of a provisional application. Under United States patent law, a provisional application is a legal document filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), that establishes an early filing date, but which does not mature into an issued patent unless the applicant files a regular non-provisional patent application within one year. There is no such thing as a "provisional patent".[1] A provisional application includes a specification, i.e. a description, and drawing(s) of an invention (drawings are required where necessary for the understanding of the subject matter sought to be patented[2]), but does not require formal patent claims, inventors' oaths or declarations, or any information disclosure statement (IDS). Furthermore, because no examination of the patentability of the application in view of the prior art is performed, the USPTO fee for filing a provisional patent application is significantly lower (US$ 125 as of September 2011) than the fee required to file a standard non-provisional patent application. A provisional application can establish an early effective filing date in one or more continuing patent applications later claiming the priority date of an invention disclosed in earlier provisional applications by one or more of the same inventors. The same term is used in past and current patent laws of other countries with different meanings. Continuation applications In certain offices a patent application can be filed as a continuation of a previous application. Such an application is a convenient method of including material from a previous application in a new application when the priority year has expired and further refinement is needed. Various types of continuation application are possible, such as continuation and continuation-in-part. Divisional application A divisional application is one which has been "divided" from an existing application. A divisional application can only contain subject matter in the application from which

it is divided (its parent), but retains the filing and priority date of that parent. A divisional application is useful if a unity of invention objection is issued, in which case the second (and third, fourth, etc.) inventions can be protected in divisional applications. The process of obtaining the grant of a patent begins with the preparation of a specification describing the invention. That specification is filed at a patent office for examination and ultimately a patent for the invention described in the application is either granted or refused. Patent specification A patent specification is a document describing the invention for which a patent is sought and setting out the scope of the protection of the patent. As such, a specification generally contains a section detailing the background and overview of the invention, a description of the invention and embodiments of the invention and claims, which set out the scope of the protection. A specification may include figures to aid the description of the invention, gene sequences and references to biological deposits, or computer code, depending upon the subject matter of the application. Most patent offices also require that the application includes an abstract which provides a summary of the invention to aid searching. A title must also generally be provided for the application. Each patent office has rules relating to the form of the specification, defining such things as paper size, font, layout, section ordering and headings. Such requirements vary between offices. Since a description cannot generally be modified once it is filed (with narrow exceptions), it is important to have it done correctly the first time. Claims The claims of a patent specification define the scope of protection of a patent granted by the patent. The claims describe the invention in a specific legal style, setting out the essential features of the invention in a manner to clearly define what will infringe the patent. Claims are often amended during prosecution to narrow or expand their scope. The claims may contain one or more hierarchical sets of claims, each having one or more main, independent claim setting out the broadest protection, and a number of dependent claims which narrow that protection by defining more specific features of the invention. In the U.S., claims can be amended after a patent is granted, but their scope cannot be broadened beyond what was originally disclosed in the specification. No claim broadening is allowed more than two years after the patent issues.

Filing date The filing date of an application is important as it sets a cutoff date after which any public disclosures will not form prior art (but the priority date must also be considered), and also because, in most jurisdictions, the right to a patent for an invention lies with the first person to file an application for protection of that invention (See: first to file and first to invent). It is therefore generally beneficial to file an application as soon as possible. To obtain a filing date, the documents filed must comply with the regulations of the patent office in which it was filed. A full specification complying with all rules may not be required to obtain a filing date. For example, in the U.K., claims and an abstract are not required to obtain a filing date, but can be added later. However, since no subject matter can be added to an application after the filing date, it is important that an application disclose all material relevant to the application at the time of filing. If the requirements for the award of a filing date are not met, the patent office will notify the applicant of the deficiencies. Depending upon the law of the patent office in question, correction may be possible without moving the filing date, or the application may be awarded a filing date adjusted to the date on which the requirements are completed. A filed application generally receives an application number. Priority claim A patent application may claim priority from another previously filed application in order to take advantage of the filing date of information disclosed in that earlier application. Claiming priority is desirable because the earlier effective filing date reduces the number of prior art disclosures, increasing the likelihood of obtaining a patent. The priority system is useful in filing patent applications in many countries, as the cost of the filings can be delayed by up to a year, without any of the applications made earlier for the same invention counting against later applications. The rules relating to priority claims are in accordance with the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and countries which provide a priority system in conformity with the Paris Convention are said to be convention countries. These rules should not be confused with the rules under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), outlined above. Security issues Many national patent offices require that security clearance is given prior to the filing of a patent application in foreign countries. Such clearance is intended to protect national security by preventing the spread and publication of technologies related to (amongst others) warfare or nuclear arms.

The rules vary between patent offices, but in general all applications filed are reviewed and if they contain any relevant material, a secrecy order may be imposed. That order may prevent the publication of the application, and/or the foreign filing of patents relating to the invention. Should it be desired to file an application in a country other than an inventor's country of residence, it may be necessary to obtain a foreign filing licence from the inventor's national patent office to permit filing abroad. Some offices, such as the USPTO, may grant an automatic license after a specified time (e.g., 6 months), if a secrecy order is not issued in that time. Anyone working on government contracts involving national security technologies would be well advised to carefully coordinate patent applications with the relevant agencies. Similarly, patent applicants should be aware of the arms export-control laws that may restrict the types of technical information that can be disclosed to any foreign nationals. Publication Patent applications are generally published 18 months after the earliest priority date of the application. Prior to that publication the application is confidential to the patent office. After publication, depending upon local rules, certain parts of the application file may remain confidential, but it is common for all communications between an Applicant (or his agent) and the patent office to be publicly available. The publication of a patent application marks the date at which it is publicly available and therefore at which it forms full prior art for other patent applications worldwide. Patent pending Patent pending is a term used to describe an alleged invention that is the subject of a patent application. The term may be used to mark products containing the invention to alert a third party to the fact that the third party may be infringing a patent if the product is copied after the patent is granted. The rules on the use of the term to mark products vary among patent offices, as do the benefits of such marking. In general, it is permissible to apply the term patent pending to a product if there is, in fact, a patent pending for any invention implemented in the product. Patentable subject matter Patents are granted for the protection of an invention, but while an invention may occur in any field, patent laws have restrictions on the areas in which patents can be granted. Such restrictions are known as exclusions from patentability. The scope of patentable subject is significantly larger in the U.S. than in Europe. For example, in Europe, things such as computer software or methods of performing

mental acts are not patentable. The subject of what should be patentable is highly contentious, particularly as to software and business methods. Search and examination After filing, either systematically or, in some jurisdictions, upon request, a search is carried out for the patent application. The purpose of the search is to reveal prior art which may be relevant to the patentability of the alleged invention (that is, relevant to what is claimed, the "claimed subject-matter"). The search report is published, generally with the application 18 months after the priority date of the application, and as such is a public document. The search report is useful to the applicant to determine whether the application should be pursued or if there is prior art which prevents the grant of a useful patent, in which case the application may be abandoned before the applicant incurs further expense. The search report is also useful for the public and the competitors, so that they may have an idea of the scope of protection which may be granted to the pending patent application. [6] In some jurisdictions including the U.S., a separate search is not conducted, but rather search and examination are combined. In such case, a separate search report is not issued, and it is not until the application is examined that the applicant is informed of prior art which the patent office examiner considers relevant. Examination is the process of ensuring that an application complies with the requirements of the relevant patent laws. Examination is generally an iterative process, whereby the patent office notifies the applicant of its objection. (see office action) The applicant may respond with an argument or an amendment to overcome the objection. The amendment and the argument may then be accepted or rejected, triggering further response, and so forth, until a patent is issued or the application is abandoned. Issue or grant Once the patent application complies with the requirements of the relevant patent office, a patent will be granted further official fees, and in some regional patent systems, such as the European patent system, translations of the application into the official languages of the states in which protection is desired must be filed to validate the patent. The date of issue effectively terminates prosecution of a specific application, after which continuing applications cannot be filed, and establishes the date upon which infringement may be charged. Furthermore, an issue date for an application in the U.S. filed prior to 1995 also factors into the term of the patent, whereas the term of later filings is determined solely by the filing date.

Post-issue or grant Many jurisdictions require periodic payment of maintenance fees in order to retain the validity of a patent after it is issued and during its term. Failure to timely pay the fees results in loss of the patent's protection. The validity of an issued patent may also be subject to post-issue challenges of various types, some of which may cause the patent office to re-examine the application. Patentability: Requirements The patent laws usually require that, in order for an invention to be patentable, it must

be of patentable subject matter, i.e., a kind of subject-matter that is eligible for patent protection, be novel (i.e. at least some aspect of it must be new), be non-obvious (in United States patent law) or involve an inventive step (in European patent law); and be useful (in U.S. patent law) or be susceptible of industrial application (in European patent law[1]).

Usually the term "patentability" only refers to "substantive" conditions, and does not refer to formal conditions such as the "sufficiency of disclosure", the "unity of invention" or the "best mode requirement". Judging patentability is one aspect of the official examination of a patent application performed by a patent examiner and may be tested in post-grant patent litigation. Prior to filing a patent application, inventors sometimes obtain a patentability opinion from a patent agent or patent attorney regarding whether an invention satisfies the substantive conditions of patentability. Opposition and reexamination Many national and regional patent offices provide procedures for reconsidering whether or not a given patent is valid after grant. Under the European Patent Convention, any person can file an opposition provided they act promptly after grant of the patent. In the United States, members of the public can initiate reexamination proceedings. Japan provides similar options as well. Members of the public can also initiate lawsuits in the courts of various nations to have patents declared invalid.

United Kingdom patents can be reviewed by way of a non-binding opinion issued by the Patent Office, or by formal applications for revocation before the Patent Office or the Court. If the patent survives a revocation action, this is noted for future reference by way of a Certificate of contested validity. Infringement The fact that an invention is patentable or even patented does not necessarily mean that use of the invention would not also infringe another patent. The first patent in a given area might include a broad claim covering a general inventive concept if there is at that point no relevant prior art. Later, a specific implementation of that concept might be patentable if it is not disclosed in the earlier patent (or any intervening prior art), but nevertheless still falls within the scope of the earlier claim (covering the general concept). The later inventor must, therefore, obtain a license from the earlier inventor in order to be able to exploit his or her invention. At the same time, the earlier inventor might want to obtain a license from the later inventor, particularly if the later invention represents a significant improvement in the implementation of the original broad concept. In this case, the two would enter into a cross license. Prior art Prior art (also known as state of the art, which also has other meanings, or background art[1]), in most systems of patent law,[2] constitutes all information that has been made available to the public in any form before a given date that might be relevant to a patent's claims of originality. If an invention has been described in the prior art, a patent on that invention is not valid. Information kept secret, for instance, as a trade secret, is not usually prior art, provided that employees and others with access to the information are under a nondisclosure obligation. With such an obligation, the information is typically not be regarded as prior art. Therefore, a patent may be granted on an invention, although someone else already knew of the invention. A person who used an invention in secret may in some jurisdictions be able to claim "prior user rights" and thereby gain the right to continue using the invention. As a special exception, earlier-filed and unpublished patent applications do qualify as prior art as of their filing date in certain circumstances. In order to anticipate a claim, prior art is generally expected to provide a description sufficient to inform an average worker in the field (or the person skilled in the art) of some subject matter falling within the scope of the claim. Prior art must be available in some way to the public, and in many countries, the information needs to be recorded in a fixed form somehow. Prior art generally does not include unpublished work or mere conversations (though according to the European Patent Convention, oral disclosures also form prior artsee Article 54(2) EPC). It is disputed whether traditional knowledge (e.g., of medical properties of a certain plant) constitutes prior art.

Patents disclose to society how an invention is practiced, in return for the right (during a limited term) to exclude others from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale or using the patented invention without the patentee's permission. Patent offices deal with prior art searches in the context of the patent granting procedure. Types of prior art s Novelty A "novelty search" is a prior art search that is often conducted by patent attorneys, patent agents or professional patent searchers before an inventor files a patent application. A novelty search helps an inventor to determine if the invention is novel before the inventor commits the resources necessary to obtain a patent. The search may include searching in databases of patents, patent applications and other documents such as utility models and in the scientific literature. A search of this type is also conducted by patent examiners during prosecution of the patent application. For instance, examiner's search guidelines applicable to the United States are found in the U.S. Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) 904.02 General Search Guidelines, Prior Art, Classification, and Search.[5 Validity A "validity search" is a prior art search done after a patent issues. The purpose of a validity (or invalidity) search is to find prior art that the patent examiner overlooked so that a patent can be declared invalid. This might be done by an entity infringing, or potentially infringing, the patent, or it might be done by a patent owner or other entity that has a financial stake in a patent to confirm the validity of a patent. Clearance A clearance search is a search of issued patents to see if a given product or process violates someone else's existing patent. If so, then a validity search may be done to try to find prior art that would invalidate the patent. A clearance search is a search targeting patents being in force and may be limited to a particular country and group of countries, or a specific market.