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Anticipation is the performance of an act or obligation before it is legally due. Some common uses of the term “anticipation” in a legal sense include:

  • In the context of patent law, anticipation refers to the prior invention or disclosure of the claimed invention by another, or the inventor's own disclosure of the claimed invention by publication, sale, or offer to sell prior to the inventor's application for a patent. In other words, if someone else has known about or used the invention before the patent applicant applies for a patent, that patent applicant will not be entitled to a patent.
  • In the context of conveyance, anticipation refers to the act of assigning, charging, or otherwise dealing with income before it becomes due. 

[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]