How do I do a prior art search?

While you can always start a prior art search using assorted keywords on Google, that is hardly the most efficient or effective way.  Keyword searches on Google might lead you to published articles and some patents.  To do a good patent search, you need to know what categories, or "classifications", the U. S. Patent office will list your invention under. 

The U. S. Patent and Trademark Office has an article that outlines how to look up classification schemes for your invention.  You might be quite surprised by the classification schemes that turn up. For example, let's say you are working on a vision guided robotics project.  You can follow the article's instructions to look up the CPC scheme for "robotics".  You will turn up at least two relevant categories that use keywords you may or may not come up with yourself:

  • "Manipulators" or "Chambers provided with Manipulation Devices" (one subcategory depicting the robot itself)
  • "Image data processing or generation, in general" (one subcategory of which covers image feedback for automatic industrial control, e.g. robot with camera).

While it is advisable for you to do a quick prior art search yourself, please know that you will still need your patent attorney to repeat the prior art search.  This is because searching patents is a unique skill and your attorney has access to search specialists who can turn up more complete results more quickly that you possibly could (unless you are also a licensed patent agent or patent attorney yourself).  This is why filing a patent all by yourself is not a great idea - working with an experienced patent attorney can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.


Was this article helpful?
0 out of 0 found this helpful

      This website and all posts and content are intended for educational purposes only and for no other purposes. This website does not and is not intended to provide legal, financial or tax related advice. Although we take great care to make sure that all of our information is accurate and useful for it intended educational purposes, if you have a specific issue for which you need actionable advice, please come to the Martin Trust Center in person to speak to one of our Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) or consult a licensed attorney or other professional. Despite the backgrounds and qualifications of our staff, mentors, lecturers, authors, EIRs and speakers no attorney-client, advisor, or other confidential/privileged relationship exists or will be formed between you and the Martin Trust Center or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Under no circumstances should any content be relied upon in making any decisions that could have any financial or legal impact(s).
Have more questions? Submit a request


Powered by Zendesk