Patent Prior Art Research

Prior Art Research

Prior art research identifies granted patents and published patent applications for innovations that are the same, similar or serve the same function as the proposed innovation. Prior art research may also include review of scientific academic, technical, industrial, trade and business publications in order to identify disclosures of relevant prior art. Patent prior art research is an essential tool used across all patent matters. It provides the basis for freedom to operate and a determination of patentability, an understanding of the state of the art,  a view of the patent landscape (what has been patented, when, where and by whom), and identification of the white spaces in the landscape where patent protection is still available. Prior art research is not a one size fits all service and it must be tailored for each specific project in order to be effective and cost efficient. In many instances, the prior art research may be performed in stages, e.g. where the positive results of one stage of research in support of use, will provide the basis for a second stage of research in support of patentability.

Knock-out Search

Knock out prior art research takes a broad look at the relevant technology to identify any protected prior art that would prevent the use of the proposed invention, or prevent the patentability of the invention as novel. It is a fast and cost efficient means to identify patented technologies that will likely block the patenting of the proposed invention. It provides an overview of the relevant technologies in an effort to access whether the invention is patentable as is, or whether modifications or further innovations will be required. A clean knock-out search may then be used as the basis for a full patentability search.

Freedom to Operate (FTO) Research

FTO research will identify published patent applications and granted patents that may expose the use of the proposed invention to claims of infringement. An FTO analysis will also identify relevant patents that have expired providing an indication of whether the elements of the proposed invention are now within the public domain. In this respect, an FTO may also be used as a basis for a patentability study.

State of the Art Research

State of art research provides information on the patent development in a specific technology area from a given time through current innovations. It provides a means to examine what innovations have been developed and patented in a specific device or area of technology.  The information may then be used to identify areas of patentability for proposed inventions. State of the art research will necessarily include a review of published patent applications and granted patents and may include both domestic and foreign applications and grants. The research may also include a review of scientific, academic, technical, industrial, trade and business publications that help describe the state of the art.

Patentability Search

Patentability research will identify relevant patent references in order to determine whether the proposed invention is novel and non-obvious and therefore patentable. The research may also be used to support claims of utility. Patentability research will include a review of published patent applications and granted patents, either domestic, foreign or both, and may include a review of scientific, academic, technical, industrial, trade and business publications

Invalidity Research

A patent invalidity search seeks to identify prior art that may be used to invalidate the claims of an existing granted patent. Typically, invalidity research is used to defend claims of infringement in that if the claim of the infringed patent can be shown to be invalid, as a result of the existence of prior art, no infringement exists. The research may also be used in support of a petition to initiate an inter partes review of the patent directly with the USPTO.

Patent Landscape Research and Whitespace Analysis

Patent landscape research seeks to identify the current state of the art in a given technology area at a point in time.  The research provides a snap shot view of the relevant patent applications and grants surrounding the technology. A patent landscape report prepared in the early stages of R&D can provide information that is essential to the proper development of an innovation. A landscape report will provide the owner of a proposed invention information regarding;

1. what has been developed and the extent of patent activity in the given field;

2. who is developing the technology (inventors and assignees) and identification of competitor’s patent activity in the field;

3. where the technology is being developed (patent activity per country, region or worldwide);

4. when the technology was developed (identification of patents still in force and those that have fallen into the public domain, indication of patent trends);

5. why the technology has been developed (indications of the driving forces behind the development of the technology).

A full understanding of the patent landscape at the early stages of development, will allow the innovation to develop without fear of infringing patents in the landscape. It allows the opportunity early on to make modifications in the innovation that may be necessary in order to successfully navigate the patent landscape and find a home for the invention within the landscape.

Whitespace Analysis

Whitespace analysis seeks to identify potential areas in the technology where patent protection is still available. Based upon the results of a patent landscape study, a whitespace analysis will identify those open areas or “white spaces” in the landscape that, for whatever reason, are absent of patent development. Performed in conjunction with the patent landscape at the early stages of development, the whitespace analysis may help to drive the direction or expansion of the proposed invention by identifying those areas in the technology where the proposed invention may be patentable, or where it may be feasible to expand the technology into other patentable areas.

Research Tools

1. Patent Research

Patent prior art research is performed using a platform to access an international database of patent information including bibliographic information and full-text of patent documents from over 100 patent issuing authorities worldwide. The research platform offers additional patent information and related services, such as direct links to patent registers, legal status, copies of original patent documents, alerts, translations, graphs/charts, analytics and more. It facilitates the combining of full-text searching with the eight main international patent classifications (IPC) and produces results grouped by patent families.


► Over 48 million patent families dating back to the early 1900s.

► Searchable and on-demand machine translations.

► Rapid alert service available to keep updated on technologies or competitors.

► Integrated PDF, Excel, Word format ordering, legal status, registers, analysis tools and more.

► Analytics offers instant analysis of up to 100,000 records at a time.

Data can be analyzed in the following areas:

  • Jurisdiction
  • Year
  • Assignee
  • Inventor
  • Classification
  • Keyword

The various areas can be analyzed using different criteria by;

| Patent Family | Priority | Application | Grant Publication |

A ‘Combined’ view of all or a number of the above criteria is also available.

Results are available as charts or spreadsheets in customizable reports.

2. Scientific, Academic, Technical, Industrial, Trade and Business Publications Research.

Non-patent publication research is performed on a number of science and technology research platforms, websites, journals, industrial and trade organization publications, business and academic publication resources. These resources provide coverage for millions of scientific and technical publications and research materials, from thousand of sources worldwide.  Some of the more predominant examples include the following sources;

AIP Scitation

Scitation is the online home of leading journals and conference proceedings from AIP Publishing and AIP Member Societies.


CiteSeerx is an evolving scientific literature digital library and search engine that has focused primarily on the literature in computer and information science. CiteSeerx aims to improve the dissemination of scientific literature and to provide improvements in functionality, usability, availability, cost, comprehensiveness, efficiency, and timeliness in the access of scientific and scholarly knowledge.

DBLP Computer Science Bibliograohy

A joint cooperation between Schloss Dagstuhl and Trier University/DBLP aims at strengthening the documentation of research publications in Informatics in a comprehensive, transparent, and open accessible way.


Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from Springer, Elsevier, Nature, IEEE, Wiley-Blackwell and more. DeepDyve is a one-stop shop offering millions of articles from thousands of top academic, scientific, and professional journals in dozens of fields, including:

  • Life Sciences
  • IT/Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Business
  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities

DOE PAGES &  DOE SciTech Connect

The Department of Energy Public Access Gateway for Energy and ScienceBeta (DOE PAGESBeta) is the DOE portal that makes scholarly scientific publications resulting from DOE research funding publicly accessible and searchable.

DTIS Online

The scope of DTIC’s scientific and technical (S&T) collection covers all areas of defense research, including biological and medical science, environmental pollution and control, and behavioral and social science. The collection also contains Department of Defense (DoD) directives and instructions, budget information, conference and symposia proceedings, patents and patent applications, and other topics of interest to the defense community.

Elsevier Scopus

From researchers pursuing scientific breakthroughs to academic institutions and government agencies evaluating research, Scopus is the abstract and indexing database of choice. Worldwide, Scopus is used by more than 3,000 academic, government and corporate institutions and is the main data source that supports the Elsevier Research Intelligence portfolio.

Genamics JournalSeek

Genamics JournalSeek is the largest completely categorized database of freely available journal information available on the internet. The database presently contains 102139 titles. Journal information includes the description (aims and scope), journal abbreviation, journal homepage link, subject category and ISSN. Searching this information allows the rapid identification of potential journals to publish your research in, as well as allow you to find new journals of interest in your field.

German National Library of Science and Technology (Technische Informationsbibliothe -TIB) – GetInfo

GetInfo is a service offered by the TIB which is worldwide the largest specialized library for science and technology. The TIB’s collection includes leading specialised databases, publishers’ offers, as well as the collection of the national libraries for medicine and economics. Over 160 million data sets are available. The integrated delivery or direct access to full texts, research data, audiovisual media and 3D-models enables fast access to subject and research information.

Google Books

Google Book Search interface is available in over 35 languages, from Japanese to Czech to Finnish.  Over 10,000 publishers and authors from 100+ countries are participating in the Book Search Partner Program.  The Library Project expands to 28 partners, including seven international library partners: Oxford University (UK), University of Complutense of Madrid (Spain), the National Library of Catalonia (Spain), University Library of Lausanne (Switzerland), Ghent University (Belgium) and Keio University (Japan).

Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.


HighWire is a leading ePublishing platform, HighWire Press partners with independent scholarly publishers, societies, associations, and university presses to facilitate the digital dissemination of more than 3000 journals, books, reference works, and proceedings.


Ingentaconnect offers one of the most comprehensive collections of academic and professional research articles online – some 5 million articles from 10,000 publications. Ingentaconnect provides researchers with online access to the full text of electronic articles, through online purchase of individual articles, or through subscriptions to publications.

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. The Internet Archive includes: texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities. Prior Art Database’s Prior Art Database has been in existence since the company was founded in 2000. It is the world’s first and largest online prior art disclosure service. It is an essential source of non-patent literature for IP professionals, attorneys, corporate researchers and development staff, libraries, and universities. To attest to its value, the Prior Art Database is required reading by Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examiners. Leading technology companies use defensive publication to strengthen their core patents and reduce freedom to operate risk.

With content exclusive to, the Prior Art Database is dedicated to providing the world with access to prior art technical-disclosure documents. Its sole purpose is to enable the creation of, and access to, prior art documents.

IEEE Xplore

The IEEE Xplore digital library is a powerful resource for discovery and access to scientific and technical content published by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and its publishing partners. IEEE Xplore provides Web access to more than 3-million full-text documents from some of the world’s most highly cited publications in electrical engineering, computer science and electronics. The content in IEEE Xplore comprises over 160 journals, over 1,200 conference proceedings, more than 3,800 technical standards, over 1,000 eBooks and over 300 educational courses. Approximately 25,000 new documents are added to IEEE Xplore each month.


An open catalog of 30M+ papers, or import references from other online databases.

Microsoft Academic Search

Journal literature from over 38 million publications indexed by Microsoft.

NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) provides access to aerospace-related citations, full-text online documents, and images and videos. The types of information include: conference papers, journal articles, meeting papers, patents, research reports, images, movies, and technical videos – scientific and technical information (STI) created or funded by NASA. (STI) Program and its support contract services are critical components in the worldwide activity of scientific and technical aerospace research and development. Collected from U.S. and international sources, STI is organized according to content prior to being added to the NTRS Registered, which is a world-class collection of STI that includes over 4 million bibliographic records and a growing number of full-text documents.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) PubMed Central® (PMC) 

A full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).

National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL 

Database for NREL-developed publications from 1977 to the present on subjects related to renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. The database includes both technical and nontechnical publications. Many publications are available electronically as Adobe Acrobat PDFs or through the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) link.

National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP)

Gateway to EPA publications including the NEPIS database.


The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) serves as the largest central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information available today. For more than 60 years NTIS has assured businesses, universities, and the public timely access to approximately 3 million publications covering over 350 subject areas.

Open Access Initiative (OAI)/Open J-Gate

OAI is a new paradigm in scholarly publishing. It aims to promote models that ensure free and unrestricted access to scholarly & research journals. Open J-Gate is an electronic gateway to global journal literature in open access domain. Launched in 2006, Open J-Gate is the contribution of Informatics (India) Ltd to promote OAI. Open J-Gate provides seamless access to millions of journal articles available online. Open J-Gate is also a database of journal literature, indexed from 3000+ open access journals, with links to full text at Publisher sites.

Research Disclosure

Research Disclosure has been the industry standard defensive publication service for over 50 years. Over that period the service has been used by an estimated 90% of the world’s leading companies and has grown to become a significant non-patent literature archive.

Research Gate

Platform to connect researchers and make it easy for them to share and access scientific output, knowledge, and expertise. ResearchGate today has more than 5 million members.

SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) 

Contains abstracts of astronomy, physics, astrophysics, instrumentation and related literature.

Science Direct 

ScienceDirect is a leading full-text scientific database offering more than 12 million journal articles and book chapters from nearly 2,500 journals and 26,000 books. searches over 60 databases and over 2200 selected websites from 15 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results.

Springer Link

Springer Link provides researchers with access to millions of scientific documents from journals, books, series, protocols and reference works.

ThomasNet is the leading product sourcing and supplier discovery platform for procurement professionals, engineers, and plant & facility management.’s search features are vital for locating local manufacturers and representatives and for obtaining product information using readily available links to manufacturer’s websites.

WorldWideScience is a global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals. accelerates scientific discovery and progress by providing one-stop searching of databases from around the world. Multilingual provides real-time searching and translation of globally-dispersed multilingual scientific literature.