Page 5 - Minnesota Vol 8 No 5
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vention patented is not new or is obvi- ous in view of that prior art you have compiled.
When a client believes it may have invented something patentable, one of the  rst things we o en do is a pat- entability evaluation.  e client ad- vises us of all of the prior art it knows about, and we search available patent records to ascertain whether one or more feature of the client’s concept are new and non-obvious.
 at patent search of course in- cludes U.S. patent records and until the advent of the World Wide Web, it may have stopped there.  e U.S. patent system was for many years considered to be the gold standard for historical patent information. If you were going to get a patent, you would always  le for protection in the United States (and hopefully ob- tain a U.S. patent, creating some prior
art for the next inventor in the  eld).  e economic emergence of Europe, Japan, and now especially China has changed that equation.
China has only had a western-style patent system since 1985. Despite be- ing rather new at this, more than 1.38 million patent applications were  led with the Chinese patent o ce in 2017, which is more than the combined to- tal of applications received that year by the patent o ces of the United States, Japan, Korea, and the Europe- an Union.  e big  ling numbers in China are a consequence of the gov- ernment subsidies paid to Chinese nationals for  ling patent applications (that doesn’t happen here).
Patent  lings lead to published pat- ent applications and patents. China is churning out published patent docu- ments at a prodigious rate, over twice as fast as the United States, and that
has been the case for several years. As noted above, published patent ap- plications and patents are prior art to new patent applications  led a er those publications. Accordingly, when searching for prior art (for whatever reason), the expanding body of work being published by the Chinese patent o ce is rapidly increasing in content and importance.
Of course, all those Chinese patent publications are in Chinese, and thus di cult to dissect for U.S. search pur- poses — but they still may constitute prior art. Available online patent da- tabases now include millions of Chi- nese records, but search capabilities are limited by content and language.  e future (present?) of patent search- ing must include Chinese published documents.
Perhaps it’s time to brush up on your Mandarin.

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