prior art


patent law
: knowledge that is publicly available (as from the description in an already existing patent, from publications, or from public use or sale) before the date of filing a claim for a patent for an invention
a finding by the judge that there was no advancement of design in the new invention over the prior art

Examples of prior art in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Apple ended up that case, but there could be some prior art there, so to speak, that helps support the DOJ's case. Michael Calore Lauren Goode, WIRED, 28 Mar. 2024 Conduct a prior art search to check if similar inventions already exist and consult with a patent attorney to assess the patentability of your idea. Jon Stojan, Journal Sentinel, 18 Aug. 2023 Conduct a Prior Art Search: Before diving into the patenting process, conduct a thorough prior art search. Jon Stojan, The Indianapolis Star, 11 Aug. 2023 It can also likely be used to accelerate research and comparisons to prior art, stimulate differentiation and new combinations of known things. Jinan Glasgow George, Forbes, 5 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prior art.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1883, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prior art was in 1883

Dictionary Entries Near prior art

Cite this Entry

“Prior art.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Legal Definition

prior art

: the processes, devices, and modes of achieving the end of an alleged invention that were known or knowable by due diligence before and at the date of the invention
also : the knowledge or description of such processes, devices, or modes
used chiefly in patent law
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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