There are many resources that Researchers may use when conducting a prior art search. With so much data available, it is critical to have a clear strategy before beginning a new search. Here are a couple tips we've put together to help you get started.
- Review the Patent: Review the patent you are researching and gain a detailed understanding of the technology involved as well as any key features of the invention. You may also want to view the patent's application file on the USPTO's Public Pair website to ensure you do not submit previously considered prior art.
- Choose a database: There are various online databases (both paid and free) that you can use to search for prior art. Below are some links to some of the free online patent resources.
- Maintain a Search Log: Keep a search log to record your previous search parameters and results. You can include this log as an attachment when submitting a contest response to better assist us in evaluating your submission.
- Mapping the Claims: Once you have narrowed your search results to a handful of references, compare each of the claims of the patent to the prior art reference. Patent lawyers typically do this through the use of a "claim chart." A claim chart should contain in the first column the actual claim language copied from the patent itself and in the second column, the figures or text from the reference that correspond to the patent. Each element of the patent is placed in a separate row within the claim chart, making it easier to identify which quoted portions of the reference correspond to each claim.
- Note: Creating a claim chart is not required in order to submit a response, but if you choose to use one you should include it as an attachment with your submission.
- For an example of a claim chart, take a look at this winning submission from a previous contest.