Skip to main content

The Prior Art Archive

Published onMar 20, 2019
The Prior Art Archive

The Prior Art Archive is the first free and open archiving platform for prior technical art for the entire IT industry, prototyped by MIT and Cisco. Its goal is to help fewer bad patents be issued, by giving USPTO examiners the tools they need to find old technology.


Low quality patents waste money. US companies spend millions of dollars year after year in litigation expenses defending against patents that shouldn’t have been issued. The patent examination process should stop patents from being issued on old or obvious technology. Unfortunately, just because technology is old doesn’t mean it is easy for a patent examiner to find. Particularly in the computer field, much of prior art is in the form of old manuals, documentation, web sites, etc. These documents are not readily searchable today, but better public archives can remedy that.

Features and Scope

The archive includes is hosted by MIT, and open to the world. It includes:

  • A customized parser that USPTO patent examiners can use w/o changing their existing search methods.

  • Query history and custom reporting for examiners to attach to reports

  • Automatic classification of uploaded documents using standard CPC tags

  • A multi-tenant open architecture, where each uploader can maintain their own content

  • Backend API support & an open standard, allowing USPTO or other companies to develop search tools or apply machine learning on top of the archive documents, for maximal reuse.


Applicants can search for prior art before they file patent applications.

Documents posted here are made available via Google Patents (and soon Bing) for easy access to the public.

The platform is used by the USPTO, so the documents will be available to the USPTO for patent examination.

How to use the site

New requests to join can be sent to [email protected]

You will want digitized versions of your documents, with metadata including Title, Description, Creation / Publication / Modification dates, and Author or copyright holder.

For other details, visit the site itself.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?