Current state of the art

Current state of the art



The current state of the art is defined in the Patent Act (Section 3 PatG) as follows:

"The state of the art comprises all knowledge which has been made available to the public by means of a written or oral description, by use or in any other way before the date relevant for the priority of the application..."

The current state of the art is therefore constantly changing, namely whenever something new or supplementary is published on a technical topic.

As a snapshot of the technical status quo, the state of the art should always be indicated with a research date. This also makes it possible to recognise how up-to-date the current SdT really is.

We explain how such a search works and what you should bear in mind when analysing the results in this article.

When to research the state of the art

The DPMA (German Patent and Trade Mark Office) has published a PDF guide to "Researching the SdT on the Internet" published. In which the reasons for a search are also listed:

Novelty researchto assess the prospect of a patent being granted or to save development costs

Overview researchto - get a broad overview of a technology area - gather material for your own development work - get examples of how to draft your own patent application - assess the added value of hiring a patent attorney

Surveillance researchto identify and monitor competitors, co-operation partners, exploiters or licensees for your invention

Injury research ("freedom-to-operate" searches) to identify valid IP rights that your product may infringe if it reaches the market

Patent searchesto supplement the usual literature searches for research work

Historical researchfor example, to document the inventor's activity for a family or company chronicle with a name search or to determine the state of the art in a technical field at a certain time in the past   

What needs to be considered?

On the one hand, the current state of the art - according to the definition - can be made up of very different publications, e.g. trade journals, patents, university publications, etc.*.
Accordingly, it is expedient to use several different research tools and strategies.


Fig.1 - 'The Sunken Yacht', © 1949 Walt Disney Corporation

The comic strip above shows Donald Duck and his 3 nephews organising a yacht with a large number of ping pong balls. It was this comic strip that prevented a similar invention from being patented in the Netherlands in the 1960s.  


It should also be noted that the state of the art generally has to be researched globally. This means that publications in other languages must be taken into account during the search.    

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