c. 35 U.S. Code § 102 - Conditions for patentability; novelty, prior art
A person shall be entitled to a patent unless--
(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or
(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States [with exceptions for inventors, see infra], . . . or
(e) the invention was described in
(1) an application for patent, published under section 122(b), by another filed in the United States before the invention by the applicant for patent or
(2) a patent granted on an application for patent by another filed in the United States before the invention by the applicant for patent, . . . or
(g) . . . made [first] by . . . [an]other inventor and not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed . . . .
Section 102 was revised substantially with the enactment in 2011 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), which took effect 18 months after its passage in September 2011. Courts have not yet heard many cases in which the new rules will be applied. So much uncertainty exists as to the ultimate impact of the changes on patents generally, let alone software patents specifically, that only a cursory examination of the effect of the regulations on software patents is possible.
While much of the information in this section applies to the previous version of the section, every effort has been made to consider the implications of the AIA revisions to three principle subsections: 102(a), 102(b), and 102(g).
1. Section 102(a)'s "known or used" determination (prior art)