patent search

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary

A search of all existing or publicly available information to determine whether an invention is new (novel) and whether persons with ordinary skill in the field could have deduced it (nonobvious). A patent search usually begins with a review of previously issued patents, and progresses to other types of documents, such as journal articles and scientific papers describing unpatented inventions. The most thorough patent searches are performed by professional patent searchers at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (See also: prior art, novelty, nonobviousness)

Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.