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Prior Art searching

Important note

Although this resource is good for a preliminary prior art search, if you are conducting this type of search in order to apply for a patent, you should consider consulting:


What is prior art?

Prior art is "any evidence that your invention is already known" (European Patent Office). Watch the video below to learn more.

Brainstorming keywords

The first step in searching for prior art is to brainstorm keywords or terms that describe the invention.

Creating a search strategy

Step two in searching for prior art is organizing your keywords into a search strategy.

Prior art resources

Step three in searching for prior art is to search as many different resources as possible. Although Google and YouTube are typical sources when searching for prior art, below are other important sources and types of information that should not be overlooked. To help you get started, you can also watch videos on:


To find related designs or products
Books & Theses
Sources of academic research results
Product literature
Product, company, vendor, or manufacturer catalogues
Journal articles
To find available technologies and related designs
White papers & technical disclosures
Information published by businesses on commercialized or non-commercialized technologies
Software & apps
Sources for software code or patents
Newspapers, magazines & trade journals
To find related designs or products, consumer & market trends, current state of technology & general background info
Capstone resources
Technical reports
Government sponsored research
Other sources
Blogs, videos, crowdfunding sites, etc.

Image credits

Images are Creative Commons or public domain. Image credits (for Creative Commons images): Patent image by Aaron (via Flickr), Journals image by Wiley Asia Blog (via Flickr), Newspapers image by Lolly man (via Flickr), Books image by Pixabay, Catalogue image by Patricia M (via Flickr), Computer screen image by Almonroth (via Wikimedia Commons), Other sources image by Martin Korz (via Flickr). White papers and Technical reports images are in the public domain (via Wikimedia Commons).



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