prior art

noun

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

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.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prior%20art. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Legal Definition

prior art

noun
: 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
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY