Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions
Patents, Prior Art, The One Year Rule, and The Novelty Test To See If Your New Idea Is Patentable
Patents, Prior Art, The One Year Rule, and The Novelty Test
According to the US patent laws, "prior art" means the state of
knowledge existing or publicly available either before the date of your
invention or more than one year prior to your earliest patent
The One Year Rule
US patent law says that you must file a patent application within one
year after you sell, offer for sale, or commercially or publicly use or
describe you invention idea. Failing to do so will prevent you from
getting a patent. You therefore need to be very careful about public
disclosure of your idea. Public disclosure does not have to be a printed
document; even just using your invention in public can be considered
public disclosure. Demonstrating your great new idea at a private party
would even be considered public disclosure, so watch out!
There are some exceptions. For instance, if you invented a new accessory for cars that mounts on the bumper, you could mount it on the bumper of your car for testing purposes and as long as you took good records and could prove in a court of law that it was just for testing you could probably get away with it.
The Novelty Test
One of the criteria that your invention must meet is the novelty test.
Your invention must be physically different in some way that
differentiates it from other related prior developments available to the
In patent law terms those prior developments and concepts are grouped together under the term "prior art".
Establish a Date of Inception
Since the date of your invention is what determines in part what the
prior art is, it is very important that you firmly establish the date of
your invention. The public knowledge before that date is what will be
The US patent office considers who ever is first to invent something the valid inventor, not who files his application first like most of the rest of the world.
If you have no documentation the filing date will be used as your date of inception. If you have good documentation with proof of the date you conceived of your invention idea then that is the date that will be used as long as you followed the rules, like not publicly disclosing your idea more than one year before filing the application, or going for a year or more without working on it etc.
One method to establish the invention date is to describe your invention in detail with drawings and all pertinent information and have it signed and dated by two witnesses who state on the document that they understand your invention. The witnesses should of course be reputable.
If someone files a patent earlier than the date you have for conceiving your idea then the patent application by the other person is considered valid prior art.
The important things to remember are:
Establish a date of inception of your idea with evidence that will hold up in a court of law such as signed statements from witnesses who can be called to testify in a court of law.
If your filing date for your patent application is more than one year after your date of inception be able to prove that you did not "abandon" your invention for more than one year, i.e. be able to show that you have never let more than a year go by without actually doing some kind of work on it.
Do not publicly disclose your idea more than one year before your application filing date which would include any publication of documents, disclosure at public events, offer to sell, or public use of the invention etc.
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