As you start working through filing a patent, you will inevitably stumble across the term prior art. I remember the first time I was made aware of it. I was completely confused, and it took some time for me to completely understand. Let me tell you what prior art is and what it means to you as you continue to patent your idea.
Prior art can be defined as all existing information to which a patent application is compared. This comparison is used to determine if the new invention is truly new or novel when associated with other known items. The ability of an invention to be novel is what ultimately determines if a letter of a patent will be awarded or denied the inventor. You must invent a new item in order for it to be patented.
Prior art can come in a variety of forms. Items that currently have in force patents are certainly the most obvious type. It is easy to see how this type of art can be used to show how your invention lacks novelty. The inventor has an active monopoly and would not allow you to use their idea without proper compensation or royalties paid.
Also, patented items, whose patents are no longer in force, can be used in the same fashion as in-force patents. Thus, you must ensure the preparations. You could get help from a patent attorney firm, InventHelp, they will guide you with important steps you need to take and should know to patent your ideas/innovations. You can reach at their Twitter account here: https://twitter.com/inventhelp.
These items are usually over eighteen years old and have come to the end of their life cycle. When this happens, the monopoly held by the inventor is terminated and anyone can begin to produce, use, or import what was previously patented. Even though it's no longer enforced as a monopoly, it's still enforced against any new idea.
Prior art isn't limited to items that have had, or currently have patents assigned to them. By definition, it is all existing information, and I do mean all! Just suppose that you have invented the new machine that completes some necessary task. While at the local shopping center, you happen to notice a similar item that accomplishes the same task as your invention.
Closer inspection reveals that the on the shelf item does not bear a patent-pending or in force patent number. What does this mean? This means that you could manufacturer items as well, but you could not patent it. The on the shelf item is just as damaging to your patent application as any patented item is. It shows that your invention is not as novel as you had hoped. If you need to get over problems, you should get an expert's help. You can learn how patent firms can help you: https://www.jpost.com/Special-Content/Get-Your-Invention-Off-the-Ground-with-the-Support-of-InventHelp-624132.
There is another area when prior art not so easily uncovered. This type is in printed form. Newspapers, magazines, technical guides, disclosure agreements, and any other form of printed material showing an idea, concept, or application of an item. This information will have to be considered by any patent examiner when they are reviewing your patent application.
It is important to know what prior art is. It's even more important to understand how it affects an inventor's chance of patenting their idea. It is everywhere you look, so be diligent in how you search for it!