Problem & Context:

For a US based catalyst company, SciTech Patent Art conducted prior art search for a patent claiming a process of decreasing selectivity loss of catalyst used in a reactor for a petrochemical process by controlling the presence of water in the reactor. There were many references describing the use of the catalyst for the same process. However, most of them had mentioned that water vapor was supplied to increase the process efficiency.

SciTech Patent Art Approach & Deliverables:
  • An organic chemist with significant search experience was assigned the job.
  • Search in patent databases and non patent literature web sites retrieved similar documents as already cited in the subject patent or by the examiner during prosecution.
  • SciTech Patent Art conducted a search for all leading assignees but could not identify any significant reference.
  • The searcher observed that a particular university had substantial research papers on the same chemical process and decided to search all research papers and dissertations published before the priority date of the subject patent.
  • After search and initial screening, one dissertation (240 pages) was selected for detailed study.
  • One section of the dissertation depicted selectivity loss of catalyst through a chart and hypothesized that the reaction by-product water could be responsible for this effect.
  • Since all other references were either silent on water effect or described the positive impact of water on the reaction, SciTech Patent Art submitted this reference as the closest prior art.
  • The reference really proved to be a critical one and along with other cited references, provided a good obviousness ground for the opposition of the subject patent.

It took approx. 4 weeks and costed $3,000