A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the government to an inventor or owner “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the said country or importing the invention into the said country” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.
The most common reason to conduct a comprehensive prior art patent search is to make sure no other similar invention already exists. Patents are granted to inventions that are novel (new) and non-obvious. If an inventor believes their invention is new, they must first conduct a prior art search before they apply for a patent.
"Prior art" pertains to any previous mention of the technology or device in the public domain. In other words, prior art searching must also include searching the internet, research databases, and other spheres besides granted patents.
1) Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
2) Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and
3) Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant
Inventions have to meet three main criteria: