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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hi, everyone! I’m J.D. Houvener, your host of the Bold Today’s Show where you, the inventor or entrepreneur, get your daily inspiration so you can go make the world a better place.


Well, here in our first week, wrapping things up, this week we’re talking about the Super Soaker, and I want to talk about what’s interesting about this first background section of the patent document, is the prior art section. So prior art is a fancy phrase which means everything that has existed up until the point of filing. That includes, of course, anything that has ever been patented or published before.

Okay, so anything that has ever been part of the public knowledge bank from the point of filing all the way back to the beginning of time. In theory, the examiner is going to have all of that out there ready to compare against your intervention, trying to make sure that they can show that your invention is novel or not novel.

So, what your job is as part of the attorney or the inventor drafting this application, you need to identify what shoulders are you standing on. In terms of what technology is this, sort of an iteration of an improvement of, in order to take it to the next level.

And so what that means is actually identifying with a patent number some of the predecessors, some of the prior art that is in the current technology, part of the environment at work here. And then, subtly identifying what are the main features that are not present in any of the prior art elements, and how is your invention doing something different, providing additional ality.

As you can see in this invention here, our inventor Lonnie Johnson, his attorney, go through and articulate the fact that this is now a self-contained toy apparatus. It’s a one-piece design, and its ability to have a high level of pressure built up, and this is safely using their valve technology, able to express this pressure by the motion of the trigger alone. And so, all these elements put together are not found in the prior art, as they discuss.

If you read through the description further, they go on to talk about how this is actually providing above and beyond functionality and improvement that is not found anywhere else in the prior art.

You’ll want to know on top of this, it’s part of the obligation of filing a non-provisional patent application. The inventor and the attorney must disclose any prior art that they know of before filing. While they file, and so that’s what’s called an invention disclosure sheet. So, this is an identification itemized list, every single publication and patent that they know of, whether they were doing a patent search or they were just in their reading and doing preparations before filing, stumbled across one of these part of documents that has to be filed.

And so, there’s no hiding or tricking the Patent Office. It’s best to be upfront and disclose this information and follow the rules. So, if you have any questions about what prior art means or you want to know what that means relative to your invention, go ahead and hop online at I want you to book your own free 30-minute consultation with our patent attorney, and you can also feel free to give us a call at 818-308-6206 to make sure your questions are answered right away.

I’m your host J.D. Houvener of the Bold Today’s Show. Go big, go bold.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at