The novelty requirement set forth in 35 U.S.C. § 102. 35 U.S.C. § 102 includes seven provisions that can be used to determine whether an invention has been disclosed prior to a critical date. An invention that is subject to a patent application is not novel when a single prior art reference discloses all of the elements of the claimed invention. Such a reference can include patents, printed publications or actual devices that have been sold prior to the critical date.
An invention that has been sold to the public, patented or published more than one year before the filing date of an application is not novel. Also, an invention that has been sold to the public, patented or published by another within one year of the filing date of an application may not be novel.
An invention that is the subject of a patent application may not be novel when the invention was claimed in an earlier application under 35 U.S.C. § 102(e). An invention that has been suppressed, concealed or abandoned is not novel.
An additional point with respect to novelty comes into play when an inventor is considering patenting his or her invention in a foreign country. Most, if not all, foreign countries have an absolute novelty requirement. This means that a patented invention cannot be publicly disclosed in any form prior to the first application date of the patent. As a result, an inventor should consider whether foreign protection is desirable prior to disclosure.