Non-patent literature includes wide variety of documents like newspaper, scientific journals, thesis, comic strips, documented traditional practices and know-hows, and many such publicly available and documented subject matters. An enhanced form of Novelty search which further moves to establish patentability of claims is referred to Patentability search, and focuses not only on anticipation rather on obviousness criteria of patent claims. Sometimes, Novelty searches and Patentability searches are referred to as Prior-Art search.
A Novelty Search or Patentability Search is conducted in the early stages of Research & Development. This search is conducted when an inventor is interested in applying for a patent, and wants to determine whether a similar or identical invention already exists. The main aspects that are targeted in a patent search is to provide opinions on Novelty/Uniqueness, Inventive Step and Industrial Applicability of the invention.
Novelty searches have no date constraints on prior art, in other words any form of relevant reference which is found, even if it dates back to 50 to 100 years ago, is still subject of an anticipatory document and shall be novelty hitting. The anticipatory documents and prior art references includes both patent literature and non-patent literature.