prior art
prior art n: 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

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. . 1996.

prior art
In patent law, all technology and publications available before the date of invention or anything available about the invention more than one year prior to filing the application. A patent will not issue if prior art is uncovered by a patent examiner that demonstrates somebody already came up with the same idea — that is, all of the significant elements in the applicant's innovation were embodied in an existing innovation.
Category: Patent, Copyright & Trademark → Patent Law

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.

prior art
Publications and prior uses forming part of the state of the art at the priority date of a patent and identified by a UK Patent Office search or relied on by a party seeking to invalidate the patent.

Practical Law Dictionary. Glossary of UK, US and international legal terms. . 2010.

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